Mexico’s First MMJ Patient Is an 8-Year-Old Girl

By Victoria Kim 09/15/15

Graciela Elizalde suffers from a severe form of epilepsy known as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

Graciela Elizalde
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The government of Mexico has approved, for the first time, the use of a cannabis-based drug to treat the nation’s first medical marijuana patient, eight-year-old Graciela Elizalde.

Elizalde suffers from a severe form of epilepsy known as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, causing her to endure 400 epileptic seizures a day. Due to the severity of her condition, she is the first person in Mexico to be granted an exemption by the government, announced last Tuesday.

The drug is the family’s “last hope,” Graciela’s father, Raul Elizalde, told Agence France-Presse. Elizalde and Mayela Benavides, Graciela’s mother, had asked the government’s General Health Council for a special permit to import Epidiolex, a drug made by the British company GW Pharmaceuticals, after learning of an increasing number of Lennox-Gastaut cases being treated with cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound found in marijuana that doesn’t produce the “high” sensation associated with THC.

The couple had exhausted all treatment options, including brain surgery, but nothing has worked to improve Graciela’s condition.

After initially being denied by the General Health Council, a judge granted them permission to access the medicine last month. According to Elizalde, they must now receive a prescription from a doctor, then seek to import the drug from the U.S. or Norway.

Graciela’s parents said they’re happy with the judge’s decision and hope the drug can give her more independence in life. Her condition hinders her from walking, speaking, or attending school. “We want to reduce the number of convulsions from 400 per day to none,” Elizalde said. “We hope that she could become more independent, that she could walk and speak and eat on her own.”

In initial testing of Epidiolex, researchers at Edinburgh University in Scotland reported a marked improvement in children suffering from epilepsy. Epidiolex was granted orphan drug designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in March 2014, a status intended to treat rare disorders.

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