Medical marijuana is fast becoming the best possible treatment for a variety of ailments, from pain to some psychological disorders. Sadly, it's still illegal in many places worldwide. That fact is precisely why the Santiago family left their home in Puerto Rico and moved to Colorado.
When Kalel Santiago was 10 months old, he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer. He spent two years undergoing surgery, radiation and chemotherapy treatments. These treatments exhausted the Santiago family, but more bad news came when they received a diagnoses of non-verbal autism.
"While he was in the hospital, we noticed he didn't speak at all and had some behaviour that wasn't right, like hand flapping, and walking on his toes," said Abiel Santiago. "But we waited until he was 3 and cancer-free to look at his behaviour."
Abiel and his wife, Gladys, began researching Kalel's autism trying to better understand it and learn about therapies for it. One of the treatments they found was using cannabis oil, specifically the compound cannabidiol, or CBD.
After reading hundreds of testimonials about children in Kalel's situation being successfully treated with CBD, they decided to proceed. Two days after they began the treatments, Kalel spoke.
"He surprised us in school by saying the vowels, A-E-I-O-U. It was the first time ever," Abiel recalled. "You can't imagine the emotion we had, hearing Kalel's voice for the first time. It was amazing."
He spoke his first words at school. His teacher was so amazed that she took a recording of him and sent it to them. "We said well, the only different thing we have been doing is using the CBD," Kalel's parents continued. Eventually, Kalel learned consonants and began speaking actual words.
"I don't know how to thank the CBD oil makers," Abiel explained. And yet it's still illegal in the United States at a federal level. At the very least it's something that needs to be looked at closely.