Niagara Gazette

Opinion

March 6, 2014

DELUCA: Niagara parents considering move for medical marijuana

Niagara Gazette — To really see how you feel about medical marijuana, it would help to meet Tony Tallarico.

He’s 9 years old and just a beautiful kid with dark eyes and dark hair.  I met him the other day in his Packard Road home and as his mom and I talked, he sat in his wheelchair in the middle of his family’s small living room turning his head left and right, his eyes casting about as is he were searching for something.

Tony has never walked or talked and is unable to do anything for himself. But, his parents, Mary and Dominick, take delight in all the subtle nuances of his personality. His little triumphs are hard won but definable including eye contact, communication through noises he makes and the occasional gleam in the eye when his he appears to be teasing his little brother. 

All of these tiny achievements are regularly wiped away by the constant seizures that leave him drained and exhausted for days. Last week a horrible four-hour seizure landed him in the emergency room at Children’s Hospital. He had another seizure yesterday. Every time it happens, his mom said, it’s devastating. 

Mary believes that a serum derived from medical marijuana might restore some of her son’s childhood, stolen at birth by a severe form of epilepsy called Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome.  

The Tallaricos and other families like them, have pinned their hopes on a bio-engineered strain of medical marijuana now legal in Colorado and California, that appears to calm the seizures and give such children an opportunity for a more normal life.

A little girl in Denver named Charlotte seems to be proving such miracles are possible. Her story of how the drug cured her hundreds of seizures per day, is providing hope to desperate families, many of whom are moving to Colorado to take advantage of a strain of marijuana named for her called “Charlotte’s Web.” Her family believes that the serum, culled from the plant and called cannabinoid, or CBD, has restored Charlotte’s life.

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