Virginia mom fights for cannabis cure for ailing daughter

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Richmond, Va. - When we first met Haley in 2013, she had 800 documented seizures. Her condition is called Dravet Syndrome and it's growing worse.

The family log documented over 1,000 life-threatening seizures in 2014. Any one of them could have taken her life.

“This is my normal, my daily thing, every day this is what we deal with,” says Lisa Smith, Haley’s mother.

So Lisa Smith and her group 'Parents for Medical Marijuana', roam the halls of the Virginia General Assembly with their children to convince lawmakers to vote in favor of legal marijuana for medical use.

They want lawmakers to see the faces of the children up close and to hear their stories.

There are two bills to be considered this session: One of them - House Bill 1445 - would allow marijuana use for the treatment of cancer, epilepsy, or glaucoma.

This home schooling, Fox News watching, conservative mom is on a crusade to educate lawmakers that it's not about weed - it's about a cannabis cure.

“It's not what  you think. I'm not for the legalization of marijuana as a recreational drug, I'm not for that at all. We just want the medical use,” says Lisa.

As Lisa was preparing to testify before one subcommittee - Haley went into a seizure and Lisa wiped away her tears.

State senator Carrico, who had been against any marijuana measure, interrupted our interview to express he was open to listen.

He later took a photo with Haley.

The seizure in open session also opened the eyes of State Senator Ken Alexander who says if it comes to a vote on the Senate floor, he now has a different point of view.

“If the science proves medical use of marijuana benefits these children extends their life expectancy, let's give it a shot,” says Alexander.

Lisa demonstrated how it works with a syringe filled with olive oil.

In view of the General Assembly, Beth Collins said her daughter, 15-year-old Jennifer Collins, is an example of how cannabis oil is the cure!

“For the last year, we've been living in Colorado treating Jennifer's nearly 300 seizures a day with medical marijuana have found great success,” says Collins.

But not every lawmaker is receptive to the testimony, the pained faces of these young people, and the   hash tag “stop the seizure” message.

For every hug of support they get from a supportive delegate, there is an equal number who seem to associate marijuana with the get-high weed associated with crime and punishment.

We watched Lisa and her group go from one meeting to the next. Senator McWaters didn't want the cameras inside, but we could clearly hear as he tried to prepare Lisa for not so good news.

But every minute counts for Haley and children like her!  There was one missing parent from this assembly in Richmond—the McGees from Midlothian.

On November 19th, the mom went into her son's room and found his body lifeless .

Lisa doesn't want her daughter’s legacy to be she took her last breath waiting on the slow wheels of legislation to legalize the medicine she needs to live.


  • Brian Kelly

    Read carefully:

    Charlotte’s story and the concern for other young patients have led some lawmakers to consider passing legislation that only allows patients to access marijuana oils that are high in CBD and that have little or no THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). While it is heartening to see lawmakers’ concern for the plight of patients with catastrophic seizure disorders, these proposals unfortunately exclude the vast majority of those who can benefit from medical marijuana, some of whom also face life-threatening ailments.

    Relative Rarity

    While CBD appears to be particularly effective at treating seizures, the number of individuals treating seizure disorders through medical marijuana programs is relatively low. For example, only 2% of the registered patients in both Rhode Island and Colorado report seizures as their qualifying conditions. While it is imperative that these individuals be allowed to legally access medical marijuana – and the strain they need – it is just as important to remember that there are tens of thousands of other men and women and a small number of children who suffer from a variety of debilitating conditions whose symptoms are alleviated by medical marijuana. The vast majority of those patients have symptoms that benefit from strains of marijuana that include more than trace amounts of THC.

    THC: Why It Matters

    Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is just one of the roughly 85 cannabinoids found naturally in marijuana. Clinical trials and the experiences of hundreds of thousands of patients have shown that THC, and strains of marijuana that include THC, provide important medical benefits for individuals suffering from pain, multiple sclerosis, nausea, and wasting disease. THC is also the cannabinoid most responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive effects. While THC does cause marijuana’s “high,” patients use marijuana for relief, not for euphoria. Patients who inhale marijuana can titrate their dosage precisely to use only as much as they need, reducing or eliminating the euphoria. Some use marijuana only before bed.

    The federal government has officially recognized THC’s medical properties since 1985, when the FDA approved a prescription drug that is made of synthetic THC — Marinol — for nausea. Yet, Marinol is not adequate for many patients who can benefit from marijuana. For nauseated patients, a pill can be impossible to keep down. Meanwhile, many patients benefit from the synergistic effect of THC and the other cannabinoids, such as CBD. Natural marijuana is less intoxicating than Marinol because patients can titrate their dosage and other cannabinoids moderate THC’s psychoactive properties.

    Studies have shown that marijuana that includes THC can alleviate a host of debilitating conditions, including:

    Nausea and appetite loss: Researchers have found THC and marijuana with THC are effective anti-emetics and appetite stimulants for individuals suffering from the side effects of cancer chemotherapy or AIDS treatments.
    Multiple sclerosis: Research has found that marijuana with THC can alleviate spasticity. In addition, Canada, the U.K., and several other countries approved an oral marijuana extract made of equal proportions of CBD and THC.
    Pain: Several studies have found that marijuana strains that include THC can alleviate neuropathic pain — a notoriously difficult-to-treat nerve pain commonly found in amputees, AIDS patients, and patients with multiple sclerosis.
    Since the 1970’s, the federal government has been providing a handful of individuals who suffer from various ailments with marijuana grown at the University of Mississippi as part of the Compassionate Investigational New Drug program. The four surviving patients still receiving federal marijuana receive a strain with almost no CBD that has been essential to managing their conditions — a rare bone spur disorder, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, and a painful condition called nail patella syndrome, respectively. The marijuana these individuals have benefitted from would not be allowed under CBD-only proposals.


    Medical marijuana legislation should not be so restrictive as to leave behind around 98% of the individuals who can benefit from it. THC has proven medical benefits and individuals who can benefit from strains that include it should not be forgotten when legislators debate medical marijuana bills.

    • bongstar420

      As long as they are not getting any recreational value out of it per se and not selling or giving it away for favors or attention, then its all good.

      How many medicinal orgasms do these people need per day for their “conditions?”

  • The People

    So a natural growing plant is the cure and the oils are the main thing that helps reduce the seizures ? Laboratory Medicine is ineffective? Might wanna think about moving out of VA for the quick fix! And make sure mom isn’t sneaking from the stash/ prescriptions ! Just saying cuz people are known to abuse drugs in America!

    • K. Baker

      If you had bothered to read the article before making your rude, judgemental statement, you would know that the oil does not get the patient high. The mom wouldn’t be sneaking “sneaking” some of the stash, instead trying to save her daughter’s life. Move out of Virginia?? Really? Yea that’s so easy to do. Why don’t you bless us and move out of Virginia? It’s do easy to do, right?

    • K. Baker

      She’s tried 17 “laboratory Medicines,” 2 special diets, and has a VNS (pacemaker for the brain.) This child still had over 1,000 seizures last year. (1,000) this CHILD has NOTHING else left.

      • K. Baker

        Kim- if you are stating to me that I’m the one who needs to read the article, I did read it. I was also one of the individuals at the General Assembly lobbying to pass this important legislation. More importantly, I’ve known this child and this family since before Haley was born. So, I have a much better understanding of the situation.

  • Caren Marinelli

    This issue is such a no brainer, which is fitting for our often no brains legislators. Why do I think if this was their child things would be different.

  • Ralph Tjaden

    I’m 62 year old man back in 1983 I was in an auto wreck which left me in chronic pain 24/7 the doctors would would tell me your in pain because your depressed and I would say NO I’m depressed because I’m in pain well now I’m so hooked on the pain meds I have a three day time limit that if I don’t take the pills its not a pretty sight and could kill me but if I had medical Marijuana I wouldn’t have to wait the 45 min it takes for the pills to start to work it wouldn’t cost as much which means I’d have more money for food or to fix up my car please to all that can help those of us that need medical Marijuana help in any way you can write a letter call your congressmen please again help us

  • The People

    K. Baker, i did read the article u idiot! So u want the oil or the stuff u smoke ! I inquired so don’t take it personal! And do u think Marijuana is the cure all for this condition? And my comment on moving out of VA is in ref to states that do offer medical pot ! So quick to rush to judgement on comments! That’s the problem with society!!

  • Man of La Mancha

    Move to Michigan. Medical marijuana is legal here. Even though we really don’t need any more conservatives, thank you very much, we’ll tolerate another Fox News watcher because opening our arms to sick kids who need help is the right thing to do.

    Maybe if she sees what a liberal-leaning state is capable of when it comes to caring for each other, she might ditch the bad politics and find a middle ground where she’s not voting against other peoples’ health, well-being, and happiness while making an exception to ensure the health, well-being, and happiness of her own daughter.

Comments are closed.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.