3-year-old Josie Mathes, with her hair tied up in a purple bow, gets a kiss and hug from her mother Staci before her weekly therapy session at a hospital in Greene County.
Josie attends physical, occupational and speech therapy three times a week for her severe epilepsy.
“We are just waiting for her to get stronger so we can see her walk,” Staci Mathes said right before Josie had a small seizure in her arms.
Recently, Josie has been more energetic after being taken off her seizure medication entirely. A feat her mom says was only possible with the use of CBD, or cannabis oil, which she gives Josie daily.
“It’s been a miracle for her,” Mathes said.
CBD wasn’t always available. In 2014, the Mathes family, with the help of State Rep. Jeremy Faison, pushed to legalize the drug in Tennessee.
“We can attest, you know, that it’s not harmed her. It’s been highly beneficial for her and simply, how can you deny that?” Mathes said when talking about CBD.
The fight to legalize CBD for Rep. Faison dates back to the day he met Josie and held her for the first time.
“My desire is to make sure little kids just like Josie, have whatever they need from that plant. If conventional medicine is not working, let’s give them an alternative that the parent has searched for and looked for and that the parent has decided is best for them,” Faison said.
Faison hopes to legalize medical marijuana to further help families and kids like Josie, who still struggles with seizures.
Mathes said if they are able to combine CBD with THC from marijuana, Josie would hopefully live a life without seizures entirely.
“It would be a tremendous benefit because we are limited with CBD and what it will do for her,” Mathes said.
To further research medical marijuana, Faison recently went on a trip to Colorado to do some fact-finding and speak to people using the drug for medicine. He returned from the trip Wednesday.
“From Republican lawmakers to Christians to everybody I met with, agreed with it for medicinal purposes so when it comes to the medical use, I think it’s possible,” Faison said about the possibility of legalizing medical marijuana in Tennessee.
While Faison and Mathes agree there are negative thoughts regarding medical marijuana, they both said it’s a life saving drug for many people, including Josie.
“Tomorrow you might need it, next week your child might need it, so I think it’s important to understand what’s there and not be so harsh on people,” Mathes said.
A recent petition to put medical marijuana on the ballot for Knox County fell short. On a national level, according to a Gallup research poll, more than half the country – 58 percent – believe marijuana should be legal. In that poll, 24 percent say it should be legal only with a medical prescription.