HOUSTON - NewsFix first met the Lindeens in February, just before the Texas Compassionate Use Act went into effect. The act gave a very small list of doctors the ability to prescribe cannabis oil that's high in CBD level and low in THC level.
The prescriptions are currently only for patients with intractable epilepsy, like 9-year-old Zachary, who at his most difficult point, was reaching 40 seizures a week.
“We were thinking that his life was to be living with us forever, not driving, like how can he hold down a job? He's going to have to Uber places, you know. Dating? All kinds of things, you know, that with seizure freedom [...] those aren't really a factor,” Zachary's mother Piper Lindeen said.
That's because for 13 weeks in a row, Zach has been seizure free.
“If we sustain the seizure freedom, I can see college and career, where that was not on the horizon before,” the mother said
It also means Zach can start catching up on his studies.
“I'm studying division and multiplication,” Zach chimes in.
“He has a lot of sub clinical seizures," Piper Lindeen said. "He may not retain a conversation he's having with you. A lot of memory function is gone when the sub clinical seizures are going on. This summer we have him in summer school, last summer I declined, because cognitively he just wasn't there where he was going to get much from summer school."
His doctor, Dr. Michael Newmark of Kelsey Seybold, is cautiously optimistic.
“A lot of folks don't respond, or just respond a little bit," Newmark said. "The fact that it worked so well for Zach at a relatively low dosage, meaning low milligram per kilogram dosing, that is absolutely fantastic news."
Zach's mom was particularly skeptical about whether or not CBD alone, without the medicinal value many in the medicinal marijuana community believe THC also provides, would be effective.
“I just felt like he was going to need a broader spectrum of cannabis products than Texas has to offer. And I still feel like most people do, we're lucky that what we have is limited,” she said.
The Lindeens get their prescription from Compassionate Cultivation, which is licensed to grow, package, and sometimes even deliver the medication to families across Texas.
“Never in my life have I been more involved in a business that’s as purpose driven as this one. And when we hear the stories from people that we’ve come to know, it’s just an extraordinary feeling for us, an almost overwhelming feeling,” CEO of Compassionate Cultivation Morris Denton said.
While not everyone is seeing results as extreme as Zach’s, a reduction in seizures, whether in quantity or intensity, is still seen as a success.
“We’re seeing 60$ - 70% success rate with our patients,” Denton said.
Thirteen weeks is a big number, but for parents with children struggling with epilepsy, every single day of seizure freedom is a blessing, one they won't soon take for granted.
“Even if we're 13 weeks free, even if we're 2 years seizure free, I think that there's still going to be a part of me that's listening for the seizures,” Mrs. Lindeen said.