Exclusive Series: Family Calls for Legalization of Medical Marijuana

IRMO, S.C. (WOLO) – As the legislature prepares to address the issue of medical marijuana, one Irmo family says their daughter’s life is at stake.

Tom and Mandy Keefer have four children. Their youngest, Raelyn, has a rare genetic disorder that’s frozen her with the mental capacity of an infant. In her three years of life, she’s also faced enormous struggles when it comes to her epilepsy.

“A parent wants to protect their child. No parent wants to bury their child,” Tom said. “You’re never fully at peace.”

Raelyn has been taking prescription medicine since she was born. Even so, for the first half of her life, she’d experience up to hundreds of seizures in a day. All too often,  Tom and Mandy say they were forced to use a rescue medicine to stop them while also, potentially, stopping her heart.

“You’re watching her and you’re debating, alright, if we give her this medicine, it could take our daughter’s life away,” Tom said. 

Her parents said they adjusted dosages, watched their daughter fight awful withdrawal symptoms and about a year and half ago, after the S.C. legislature legalized CBD Oil for use in severe epileptic patients, they took a leap of faith.

“Those first two doses, .2 milliliters, and she went seizure free for three months,” Mandy said. CBD is a compound found in cannabis. The Keefers buy theirs from a woman in Myrtle Beach. There are no psychoactive components to the oil.

Mandy says, now, Raelyn has a full-blown seizure about once a month. She takes .2 milliliters of CBD oil, twice a day.

“I don’t think she would be alive today if we weren’t using it,” Mandy said. Every day since Raelyn was born has been a guessing game. Mandy and Tom do not want their next move to be out of the state. 

“We want to be able to have an option where the side effects aren’t gonna kill our daughter,” Tom said, “and every parent should have that.”

The Keefers got involved with SC Compassion, the group pushing for the legalization of medical marijuana, after seeing what CBD oil can do.

“I think when it comes to your loved one and you’re living it and experiencing it every day, you would do anything to save their life and give them the best quality of life, and when you see it working, it’s amazing,” Mandy said. 

Our series diving into the issue of medicinal marijuana continues Thursday nights through the month of February. We’re sitting down with SLED Chief Mark Keel, talking cannabinoid science with a renowned researcher at USC, and breaking down the feasibility of this bill with the senator sponsoring it. Tune-in Thursday nights at 6 and 11 p.m.

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