East Texas Family Fights for Medical Marijuana

KYTX News - Nina Harrelson TROUP (KYTX) -- As more and more parents turn to medical marijuana in Colorado to treat their children's debilitating epilepsy, one East Texas family is fighting for a bill that would legalize it here at home.

Eight-year-old Jacob Bingham suffers from multiple seizures a day, and his parents are worried medical marijuana may be his only hope.

Jacob isn't like most 8-year-olds. He can't talk, ride a bike, eat on his own, or even play with his twin brother.

"He's so worn out from the seizures and from all the drugs that he just doesn't have an interest in much of anything. He just lays around," his mother Marcy Bingham said.

"It's hard to live through every day," Jacob's brother Jarod said. "At first the day can just start out as a typical day, and then it all turns into a horrible day if Jacob starts to seize."

Jacob suffers from Dravet Syndrome, a rare disorder that causes him to have violent and uncontrollable seizures -- sometimes dozens a day.

"You can't live a normal life," Marcy Bingham said. "You don't take vacations, you can't leave him with people. Even the nurses at times are uncomfortable with him because he seizes so much."

The Binghams spent Wednesday in Austin meeting with senators in support of two bills that would legalize cannabis-based oils as a medical treatment for children with severe epilepsy.

Senate Bill 339 and House Bill 892 would regulate the growth and dispensation of cannabis-based oils in Texas.

"It's amazing some of the stories we have seen and heard as to how it's helped children similar to our son," Jacob's father Dirk Bingham said.

Children like 9-year-old Charlotte Figi of Colorado, whose parents credit cannabis-oil for relieving their daughter's constant seizures.

The problem the Binghams face is that even if Jacob can get a prescription for the drug in Colorado, he can't legally use it here in Texas.

"We would like that opportunity too, and not worry about being prosecuted if he used it and not having to move to Colorado," Marcy Bingham said.

"We both have jobs, we have family here, we've lived here all our lives and we don't want to leave," Dirk Bingham said. "But it may come to that."

The controversial oil comes from the marijuana plant but it's low in THC and rich in cannabidiol, or CBD, and the Binghams say it's Jacob's last hope.

"If we hadn't tried everything, we wouldn't want to put our child on this," Marcy Bingham said. "But we have tried everything, and there are no more drugs for him. The doctor has told us."

Right now, Jacob takes up to six pills a day -- pills that cause life-threatening side effects.

"He could stop breathing, his heart could stop, his brain could stop and that's it," Marcy Bingham said.

The Binghams' hope is that Jacob will one day be able to live a normal life.

"Just to say 'mama,' if he could even do that," Marcy Bingham said. "If he could play with his brother. And that's what he says, he has no one to play with. He's an only child basically."

"I just want him to at least say just a few words. I just want him to say, 'I love you' or something," Jarod Bingham said.

The Binghams plan to testify in Austin in support the bills during committee discussions next month.