HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The Drug Enforcement Agency has announced it will not change it's stance on the drug despite several petitions urging them to do so. The DEA says cannabis has no medical value. However, one South Carolina woman strongly disagrees.
Janel Ralph says her daughter began suffering from an illness called lissencephaly when she was a baby, which causes her to have epileptic seizures. But now through the use of CBD oils, a chemical found in cannabis, her health has improved drastically. That's why she says she was dumbfounded by the DEA's decision.
"The doctors told us that there was not much else that they could do for her, and that we needed to start making other arrangements. We honestly didn't believe that she would live by the end of the year," said Ralph.
Ralph says her daughter's medical expenses were in the upwards of millions, with hospital stays, ambulance rides, and medications. However, since using cannabis oils, those expenses have all but disappeared.
"Her monthly dose of pharmaceuticals probably came out to be about $5,800 a month, is what the city was paying just for her pharmaceuticals," Ralph said. "Now she's probably using about $400 to $500 a month. We haven't had to use any emergency medicine."
Over 24 states regulate some form of medical marijuana, with others like North Dakota and Nevada currently in the process. Some states, including Colorado and Oregon, even allow marijuana for recreational use, as well as Washington D.C. However, the federal government still considers the plant as a Schedule I drug, with no medicinal value, that puts it in the same category as heroin and LSD.
"Crystal meth is a Schedule II drug. They're saying crystal meth has medicinal value and cannabis should be scheduled higher than meth? Does that make any sense to anybody?" Ralph asked.
Ralph now runs a company called Palmetto Harmony, named after her daughter. Although stationed in South Carolina, the company legally sells Organic CBD oils and creams, which can be used to treat several ailments, including epilepsy and Tourette syndrome. Ralph says while the DEA's decision should be disheartening to parents, the future still looks promising.
"Federally what needs to happen, is they need to pass a law that's going to allow states to determine what they're going to do with marijuana. It needs to be a state rights decision, when that happens, then that's legalization." said Ralph.
The DEA announced it would allow for more entities to produce marijuana under federal supervision so that it can be more heavily researched in the future.
Visit the Palmetto Harmony website here for more information on the products sold by Ralph.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to the oils used by Ralph's daughter as THC oils. The Ralph family uses and produces CBD oil - which contains no THC. WMBF News regrets this error.