On February 15th, 2018, Diana Briggs, a courageous, strong, and determined mother of three, won a 4 year battle for her son Ryan, when she made the first ever purchase at a PA medical cannabis store.
“A very long and winding, four-year journey brought me here today,” Briggs said as she exited Butler PA’s CY+ Dispensary according to usnew.com, “I have been crying all day.”
Briggs’ son suffers from continual seizures that approved drugs, like harsh steroids and even benzodiazepines, can’t control.
In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Diana detailed that Ryan, “once had 400 seizures in one day…There were bruises on his arms and legs, even with pillows underneath, because his body never stopped moving.”
Before medical cannabis, Briggs scoured drug and treatment plans for something that would provide her son relief.
Per the Post Gazette, Briggs noted, “We pretty much tried every conventional method that was out there without any improvement.” The drugs, like the aforementioned steroids and benzodiazepines, harmed Ryan’s kidneys, and another medication gave him liver failure.
Child cannabis patients have become an inspiration to many families whose children suffer similar conditions
In late 2013, Briggs’ best friend showed her a story about a Colorado girl named Charlotte Figi, who suffered from multiple daily seizures due to Dravet syndrome.
Charlotte’s parents themselves endured a long process to get adequate treatment for their daughter’s seizures. According to CNN, her father, Matt, happened upon a video of a young boy with Dravet syndrome whose parents administered medical cannabis to.
The cannabis, a special kind, low in THC, the chemical associated with cannabis’ euphoric “high,” but high in CBD, helped reduce the boys seizures.
Charlotte’s story popularized this high CBD, low THC strain as Charlotte’s web, which today helps many people like Charlotte control their seizures, as well as inspire parents like Diana to fight for their children’s treatment.
At first, however, Briggs was sceptical about medical cannabis for her son. She still could not access the substance legally in PA. However, this didn’t stop Briggs from doing right by Ryan.
Briggs told the Post Gazette that once she obtained and gave cannabis oils to her son, “He seemed to notice when you walked out of the room where before you weren’t sure.” The oils made him more alert, and during his first year using them his seizures reduced and weren’t as severe.
Briggs wanted actual access to safe, medically tested cannabis solutions for her son, so she went to Harrisburg to fight, “having to wait for politicians to make the decision was probably the hardest part of this entire journey…there were some who would just listen and some who were road blockers.” Briggs champions that, “[Passing medical cannabis] shouldn’t have been this hard.”
Diana maintains that cannabis has nowhere near the potential harm of other pharmaceutical treatments.
Sometimes, seeing can be believing.
On March 15th, 2016, almost a month before PA Governor Wolf would sign the PA Medical Cannabis Law into effect, and nearly a full two years before she could bring home legal medicine to her son, Briggs sought to make the senators believe.
She stood on the state capital holding a sign that depicted the number of pills Ryan took in the 10 months since the senate passed a cannabis bill, SB3, without a vote in the house. Later that day, according to triblive.com, the house voted, 40-7, to pass the bill.
Even once the bill passed, she furthered her work. Triblive.com reported that Briggs continued to fill the PA House galley with herself and supporters while legislators amended the bill before a final vote. Her main efforts detailed allowing parents to legally access medical cannabis from out of state while PA cultivators and dispensaries were still nonexistent.
Medical Cannabis families fight for their children’s access to life changing treatment.
While cannabis and medical cannabis aren’t for everyone, and affect every person differently, one can’t help but admire people like Diana Briggs or Matt Figi, who fought for their children’s needs and put them before their own.
Although Briggs celebrated a victory two months ago when she made her first legal purchase of medical cannabis for her son, she knew then her work wasn’t finished.
Just last month, on April 20th, Briggs attended the 2018 World Medical Cannabis Conference and Expo in Pittsburgh as a guest speaker. She spoke alongside dozens of other important cannabis advocates, including professional athletes like Ricky Williams and Riley Cote, who spoke with the hopes of reducing cannabis stigma and increasing understanding.
Many so called “pot parents” face criticism for treating their children’s conditions with medical cannabis, but Briggs, and parents like her exemplify supreme love in their dedication to helping their children find relief.
When PA had no legal medical cannabis program, Diana created videos on youtube where children and families were shown, along with their names, condition, age, and the words, “#Stillwaiting…never giving up.”
Children in PA like Ryan need wait no longer for adequate care, thanks to parents like Diana Briggs.
Do you have a story about a family touched by medical cannabis? Please feel free to comment below!
About the Author
Chris Matich is a professional writer, journalist, and editor living in Pittsburgh, PA. Chris blogs for Schenley.net. His writing interests include LGBT+ people/issues, sports writing, and blogging. Chris currently writes about web optimization, blogging practices, medical cannabis, and cannabis lifestyle. He writes fiction and creative nonfiction in his spare time. Linkedin, Twitter