In an effort to secure marijuana extract for their ill 5-year-old son, a pair of parents are suing the state of Arizona.
Zander, the son of Jacob and Jennifer Welton, has a serious condition called cortical dysplasia, a genetic defect that causes communication problems and daily seizures. With treatment options limited, the Weltons turned to medical marijuana, made legal in the state under the 2010 Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.
In September, Zander qualified for a medical marijuana card and was put on cannabidiol oil. Although his condition appeared to be improving, in October the Weltons received word that their son's extracts could be considered illegal due to confusion in Arizona's legal code over the definition of marijuana, reports ABC News.
Not wanting to run afoul of the law, the Welton's switched Zander to dried marijuana flowers, according to The New York Times.
“We’re not criminals,” Welton told the Times. “We just want what’s best for our son.”
Unfortunately, extracts are much easier for Zander to ingest and also ensure a more precise dosage.
On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit on behalf of the Weltons in an effort to force Arizona to classify the oil-like extracts as legal. The ACLU released a statement that same day, explaining that Maricopa County Attorney William Montgomery and other state officials are putting Zander's progress "in jeopardy" by cutting of access to their preferred form of medical marijuana.
"Casting a cloud of criminality over medical marijuana extracts is wrong and cruel," the statement read, in part. "After seeing not one but two brain surgeries fail to help their son, Zander's parents finally found an effective treatment in a medical marijuana extract and they should not be scared off from giving Zander the best medicine available to him."
The Arizona lawsuit comes on the heels of a fight in New Jersey this summer over that state's laws restricting medical marijuana access for children. The high-profile efforts of Brian and Meghan Wilson, parents raising a toddler who has a rare form of epilepsy, helped result in Gov. Chris Christie signing a bill allowing edible marijuana to be sold to children.
Speaking with the Times, Jennifer Welton explained that she had turned to medical marijuana only as a last resort. And because it actually seems to be working.
“We tried so many other regular pharmaceutical medications," she said. "They don’t have the same stigma, but they didn’t help him and sometimes they made him worse. I wouldn’t want any of my other kids using marijuana. But this is Zander’s medication, and for the first time, I feel like there’s hope for him.”