Poignant plea for parents who need marijuana for suffering kids

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Today’s guest columnist is Sam Blakemore.

“Sam, I’m angry at God… that little girl is too precious for Him to do this to her.

She doesn’t deserve this; and I’m mad at God for doing this to her!”

I saw rage in her father’s eyes because Anna’s health was taking a turn for the worse.

A few weeks passed by, and his ex-wife, Anna’s mother, entered the pharmacy. I saw her standing patiently near the front counter, waiting to give me a solemn update. As I made eye contact with her, she blurted out with sadness, “Daniel died. I know you guys enjoyed talking to each other, and I just wanted to let you know he died of a massive heart attack a few days ago.” I realized in that brief moment that Daniel literally died from a broken heart.

Weeks later, Anna, whose spirit glowed every time I saw her smile, would succumb to cancer. Towards the end of her life she struggled with persistent nausea and vomiting.

My life as a pediatric pharmacist is simple enough. Select the right patient, make sure they get the right drug at the right dose, and offer counseling.

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed taking pride in running a pharmacy with a good workflow, good inventory management, and a staff that provides quality customer service to a pediatric population with a consistent product. These simple attributes have allowed Peds Rx to serve more than 40,000 patients in 10 years.

So what’s the hard part about being a pediatric provider?

In my opinion, the hardest part is that I’m constantly dealing with a variety of family dynamics. Families come in all forms. And as a family navigates a new diagnosis, they’re learning from scratch a new way of living life. They have entrusted me and my staff to provide quality counsel for a sensitive time in their child’s young life.

There’s so many conversations and memories that I have of families wanting to discuss medical cannabis over the years prior to my appointment to the commission.

I remember the mom of a teenage girl battling cancer that struggled with persistent nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy treatments; the mom swore her child only got relief from cannabis.

I remember parent’s asking me for the name of a reputable website so that they could purchase their child’s CBD oil to treat seizure disorder; one mom said the physician recommended CBD oil but had to be careful how he counseled the family for fear of legal repercussions.

I’ve had the opportunity to take care of a precious little boy named Dylan since he was 2 years of age. He was going through life fine, but began having seizures after an illness. One of the medications that helped his seizure disorder improve was CBD oil. Over time the family in consultation with his neurologist began weaning him off some of the medicines. He now only takes 2 medications. Dylan has follow up appointments every 6 months to monitor his development with a neurologist.

A few weeks ago, Dylan’s mom asked me “How can we help you Sam? We keep seeing the news reports about the commission, and we know this medicine works. Please let us know how we can spread the word.”

Under this legislative act, pediatric patients can receive products that have a maximum concentration of 3 percent THC. Qualified patients under the age of 19 must have a registered caregiver. The product that I envision pediatric patients utilizing most frequently are the liquid tinctures.

The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission staff and members are trying our best to get dispensaries licensed, so that products can be available. We knew this process would be hard, and we will continue to fight for the citizens of Alabama. I am thankful for the opportunity to be a member of the commission. Serving the state of Alabama has been both an honor and privilege.

When things get difficult with commission work, and I have to remember why we must continue our efforts — I just reflect on kids like Anna and Dylan.

My pediatric patients and their families have a voice that needs to be heard. They deserve an opportunity to be able to get a quality product from quality businesses.

We have the smarts, the manpower, and the resources to ensure that families can receive appropriate pharmaceutical and medical care right here in the state of Alabama.

Dr. Sam Blakemore is a Pharmacist that specializes in pediatrics. He has been the Pharmacist Manager of Peds Rx Pharmacy Solutions which is located in Birmingham, AL since 2013. He currently serves as the Vice Chairman for the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission. His wife Shaundra is a Pediatric Emergency Room Physician. They have two daughters.

David Sher is the founder and publisher of ComebackTown. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).

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Invite David to speak for free to your group about how we can have a more prosperous metro Birmingham. dsher@amsher.com.

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