Parents Reunited With Son After Losing Custody For Treating Epilepsy With Marijuana

By Paul Gaita 07/06/18

The teenager must undergo monthly drug tests and is not allowed to use the smokeable marijuana that helped his ailments. 

Matthew and Suzeanna Brill
Matthew and Suzeanna Brill Photo via YouTube

After treating their chronically ill son's debilitating seizures with smokeable marijuana, Matthew and Suzeanna Brill lost custody of 15-year-old David for more than a month and faced criminal charges as well as a possible prison sentence.

But as High Times reported, the Georgia couple has been reunited with their son with help from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The organization appealed to the Twiggs County Juvenile Court in support of the family and their son's health issues; in response, the court issued a 12-month protective order, which allows the family to stay together, and may ultimately lead to dismissal of the criminal charges against the Brills.

David Brill suffers from constant and severe epileptic seizures that, according to the Brills, did not respond to the marijuana extract cannabidiol (CBD) oil, which has been suggested by some clinical trials as an effective treatment for such a condition.

Concerned for their son's health, the Brills gave him smokeable marijuana—possession of which is considered a misdemeanor in the state of Georgia—which, they claimed, allowed him to live without seizures for nearly three months.

The Brills said that they never forced David to smoke marijuana, and informed their doctors, a therapist and the police about their decision. 

A visit from the police led to David's removal from his family's home by Georgia's Division of Family and Children's Services (DFCS) for more than 30 days, during which his seizures returned, while the Brills spent six days in jail on reckless conduct charges. Upon their release, the Brills launched a GoFundMe campaign to offset the cost of a lawyer to advocate for David's return and their pending charges.

But in late June 2018, the Georgia branch of the ACLU stepped in to file an amicus brief to reunite David with his parents, which argued that the Brills' use of marijuana was done only to provide relief for their son and in a manner supported, albeit indirectly, by the Georgia Legislature, which allows the possession and use of 20 fluid ounces of low THC oil for specific medical conditions, including seizure disorders.

In response to the ACLU's efforts, the Twiggs County Juvenile Court issued a 12-month protective order, which reunited David with his parents on condition that the family checks in twice a month with the DFCS and provides them with his medical records.

David must also undergo monthly drug tests, but will be allowed to continue to take cannabidiol along with other epilepsy medication to treat his seizures.

If David does not test positive for THC and his parents cooperate with the DFCS, the juvenile court can terminate the protective order and dismiss the charges against Matthew and Suzeanna Brill. A review is scheduled for December 13, 2018.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.