SUMMERLAND - The two-year-old Summerland girl whose family is feeding her illegal cannabis oil has had a dramatic improvement in her seizure disorder.
Kyla Williams' family says in the past five months the oil given to the girl has greatly reduced the hundreds of seizures she was suffering from daily.
"We were astonished and so thankful when Kyla no longer had any seizures or only a very few each day. Her overall condition continues to improve both physically and mentally. Kyla is alert, increasingly socially interactive and loves sucking her thumb," Kyla's mother, Courtney Williams said.
The girl's grandmother, Elaine Nuessler, said numerous drugs were tried to stop the seizures. Doctors told the family that they were down to the last possible medication and Kyla may seizure for the rest of her short life.
"The seizures themselves and the medications prescribed by the doctors were causing a progressive deterioration," Nuessler said. Kyla had lost motor skills, couldn't suck her thumb and was becoming less responsive to the world around her.
They began using the illegal oil when a family member saw a feature on television about how cannabis helped children with epilepsy.
Now the family is urging the government to legalize such derivatives so more research can be done on the medical and health benefits.
Under the marijuana for medical purposes regulations, which came into effect April 1, licensed producers can only sell dried marijuana. It's illegal to sell derivative products such as oils or foods made from marijuana.
The family has run into problems because of the lack of information on characteristics of the many strains of marijuana and the limited quantities available, Nuessler said.
"When the supply of the first oil was exhausted, we tried oil from four other strains," Nuessler said.
While reducing seizure numbers and severity, those oils were not as effective as the first oil, she said.
Kyla's grandfather, Chris Nuessler is a retired RCMP officer, who said he had to do a "180 on marijuana after seeing the benefits."
"It's critical that people educate themselves about medical marijuana and join in the struggle to have derivatives legalized," he said.
"Careful studies are needed to determine the exact composition and concentration of each compound in the various strains and their effectiveness in treatment," Chris said.
The studies can't be done, as long as the oils and other derivatives are illegal, he said.
The girl's family had been considering moving to Colorado where the oils are legal and are being used by hundreds of patients.
"Our support system is here and we'd like to help change Canadian laws around the legality of derivatives," Chris Nuessler said.
Since the family went public with the girl's trouble this spring, her story has appeared in major Canadian newspapers, in publications as far away as Australia and in medical journals.
Elaine Nuessler said she's been astonished at the number of phone calls she continues to receive almost daily from parents of children with seizure disorders.
"The calls are coming from across the across the country. We had no idea the problem was so big," she said.