02/25/2014 @ 10:09am

We know a little girl named Greta - nice little girl, about 7.  She has severe epilepsy and has been having seizures since she was 5 months old – a lot of them.  We’re talking 15 or so a day, to the point that it has seriously interfered with her ability to walk, talk, or even feed herself.  

Her parents have tried everything.


Doctors and drugs beyond counting - even brain surgery when Greta was 5.  

Take a moment to think about that. Think about being so desperate to help your child that when she was 5, you would agree to her having brain surgery that might even not help.

And it didn’t.

Greta has a terrific family – two older sisters who are swell and a father who is a very fine man who I’ve known since he was a baby. He actually rents some of our farmland.  When we decided to stop farming, he’s one of the people I offered it to, because I liked how he farmed, and I liked how he lived his life.  Greta’s mother? Well, people who know her will read this, so I might as well tell the truth.  Her mom can be kind of a pain in the neck.

Of course, the United States Marines can be kind of a pain in the neck, too, but that doesn’t stop the president from dialing their number when something goes south.

Maria, to my knowledge, never served in the Marine Corps, but she can bring a little of that into most conversations, and where her family is concerned, she is relentless.

This story should have a happy ending, or at least a hopeful middle, because the family has finally found a medication that helps with the seizures.

Unfortunately, the medicine is a variety of medicinal marijuana called “Charlotte’s Web,” named after the little girl who first tried it.  That little girl went from 60 seizures a day to none.  But, as it turns out, Minnesota is not one of the 20 states where medicinal marijuana is legal.  So, to save their daughter, Mark and Maria broke up their family.  Greta and Maria moved 800 miles away to Colorado, where Charlotte’s Web is available, with a prescription.  They bought a house and established residency.  She’s telecommuting to her job as a nurse back in Minnesota, but Mark’s a farmer.

It’s damn tough to move a farm, and the money from farming is largely responsible for making all the rest of their efforts possible.  To save their child, they split up their family.

The Botker’s are in a cruel trap.  Many conservative folks oppose legalizing medical marijuana, because they think we have enough ways to get messed up in our society.  And I can’t really argue with that.

Oh, wait, yes I can. You don’t get high from Charlotte’s Web. You don’t smoke it, and it’s developed to be very low in the component of marijuana that provides a high. It’s a drug - the way morphine is a drug. No one is talking about banning morphine, because heroin is such a problem . . . even though they both come from poppies.  There are endless other examples.  

On the other hand, some of the more liberal folks aren’t throwing their full weight behind legalizing medical marijuana, because they want the “fun” stuff legal, too, and they think that if they can tie the whole shebang together, they just might get that done.

Both sides have their agendas and Greta, a girl with a great smile and too many problems, is stuck right in the middle.

I very seldom take a strong position on anything, other than an occasional plea for common sense and getting along. I think of myself as a guy who sits pretty close to the middle on a lot of issues and being in the middle means, almost by definition, that you give some weight to both sides.   

But this, this right here, is wrong. It’s just plain wrong. The governor should hear, our senators should hear, and something should be done - now.  Apply the same rules to medical marijuana that are placed on any other drug. Trust the doctors to prescribe it appropriately and ruthlessly punish the people who abuse the privilege. I’m fine with all that.

Maria told me once that she and Mark had decided to live a life without regrets with Greta, that they would do everything they could do to help her.

That attitude is beyond admirable. It just shouldn’t be necessary.

Copyright 2013 Brent Olson