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Mexico bends marijuana ban for epileptic girl

© Carlos Ramirez, AFP | Mexican Graciela Elizalde plays at her house in the Guadalupe municipality, near Monterrey, on September 2, 2015

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2015-09-09

An eight-year-old girl who suffers 400 daily epileptic seizures will become Mexico’s first consumer of medical cannabis after the health ministry granted her an exemption to its marijuana ban on Tuesday.

A substance banned by Mexico’s General Law of Health, cannabidiol (CBD) is believed to alleviate epileptic fits which characterize Graciela Elizalde’s severe form of epilepsy known as Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome.

"We are happy," Raul Elizalde, the girl's father said. "It's our last hope."

"We want to reduce the number of convulsions from 400 per day to none. We hope that she can become more independent, that she can walk and speak and eat on her own," he said.

The girl, whose parents call her Grace, wears diapers, crawls and moves in a wheelchair. She has not spoken a word since saying, "mommy" as an infant.

Last month, Judge Martin Santos gave Grace’s desperate parents permission to import the drug, called Epidiolex, from Norway or the United States. This special permit has been granted only after multiple unsuccessful treatments for Grace’s condition, including brain surgery.

Epidiolex is produced by Britain’s GW Pharmaceuticals and is still in the investigative phase of development. In April, GW Pharmaceuticals said physician reports found that the drug led to a 54 percent median reduction of seizures among 137 children and young adults who took it for 12 weeks at 11 US hospitals.

However, while the health ministry has allowed this exception, President Enrique Pena Nieto opposes any legalization. The court battle continues as the government has filed a petition to overturn the judge's decision.

Nevertheless, marijuana legalization is making some headway elsewhere in Latin America.

A regulated cannabis market exists in Uruguay while Chile’s lower chamber of congress recently backed the legalization of the cultivation of marijuana for recreational and medical use.

Meanwhile, the use of medical marijuana is legal in over 20 US states.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2015-09-09

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