Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cheryl T. Rose of Hayley’s Foundation in the Cannabis in Canada studios in downtown Vancouver. Cheryl and I go back many years, working in the same medicinal cannabis activist circles. She is the mother of Hayley Jade Rose, a true inspiration for families and sufferers of Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS), a rare form of epilepsy that causes severe, multiple and aggressive seizures and delays cognitive and behavioral development. Hayley suffered from up to 40 seizures a day at her worst, a punishing and brutal effect of an equally punishing and brutal disease.

This kind of conversation makes me think of all the parents I have worked with directly, or indirectly, over the past two decades of medicinal cannabis advocacy and activism. We have seen amazing results from children who suffer from severe seizures who have access to certain strains of cannabis that target spasticity, reducing or stopping seizures all together. And we have seen opinions and minds change. A 2013 CNN Special Report by Dr. Sanjay Gupta demonstrated why he had a change of heart and professional opinion of cannabis as a medicine. It should be noted Dr. Gupta was nominated by President Obama to act as Surgeon General of the United States but he turned it down to keep working with CNN as a medical correspondent. This all ties in to our battle here in Canada as seen with Hayley’s experience and success, led by Cheryl’s brave charge.

Cheryl has fought hard to expedite cannabis policy reform in Canada, as our children risk suffering severe developmental setbacks from continuous seizures. Having been prescribed up to 22 different toxic pharmaceutical anti-epileptic medications with no encouraging changes, the seizures Hayley suffered could only be addressed by proper administration of high doses of cannabinoid treatments to suppress her dramatic ailments. Cheryl finally found activists such as Marc Emery and others who showed Hayley how to use a vaporizer in 2008, setting precedence in BC in relation to kids and cannabis as a medicinal treatment or therapy.

Warriors like Hayley and Cheryl need be applauded for their paving the educational highway for other parents facing similarly difficult decisions. The state has no place interfering with the right to medical autonomy, however it seems Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not help in family law court. For this reason Cheryl began Haley’s Foundation, an admirable and important initiative that may be found here on Facebook or reached via e-mail at ctrose@gmail.com.

It has been Hayley’s legal right to access her cannabis since 2008. Cheryl is concerned that the cannabis provided by Licensed Producers will be inadequate to treat her daughter’s condition. Cheryl notes that other CBD strains and growers worked with limited success leaving Cheryl to continue to provide for her daughter not only in protection and awareness, but supply as well. After a lot of searching and research Cheryl found that Hayley responded to one in strain of cannabis that was successful in treating her seizures.

As with any good grower or cannabis consumer, when we find strains that work for us we need to secure them. Hayley’s Comet is a patented strain with a 1:1 THC to CBD ratio that was discovered by Dr. Paul Hornby, who’s goal was to assist children and their parents across Canada who may need access to a safe and effective treatment in stark comparison to conventional therapy.

The federal government’s current policies and LP monopoly over the medicinal cannabis industry has created an environment where patients like Hayley meet undue challenges when trying to procure their medicine. Cheryl Rose bridges the gap between parents and the education available about how to produce cannabis for their children. Cheryl attributes much of her success to the early dispensaries of British Columbia who also helped in so many ways in the success of Hayley’s treatments. As we transition into a new era of legalization and education we can never forget how we got here and the cannabis warriors who made it happen.