Gavin Ragsdale, AKA “G-Man”, is a young man that will grab your heart. His story, like many others, involves a struggle to find access to a medicine that has helped change his quality of life for the better. Gavin lives with epilepsy. In his home state of Kansas, he would not have access to high THC medical cannabis. As a mother who can relate to this pain, it infuriates me to hear the lawmakers and elected representatives in Kansas still squabbling with one another as to whether or not they should legalize cannabis.
A very ill-intentioned man by the name of Eric Voth, an internal medicine doctor representing the Kansas Medical Society, believes cannabis has no place as a medicine. During a recent debate, Kansas lawmakers heard Mr. Voth tell them that cannabis “should not be allowed as a medicine. You should continue to hold the line. Unlike many other states, we need to be proud of holding the line.” People like Dr. Voth are the reason that families like this have to leave their families, friends, and homes in Kansas. Great job holding the line. Holding the line…? I’m going to stop here—enough about this closed-minded stuck in the draconian past, uncompassionate, and close-minded individual.
Let’s meet an amazing family, an awesome mom, and an incredible young man by the name of Gavin, AKA G-Man. To give you a personal feel for this story, I talked with Gavin’s mother, Melissa Ragsdale. After speaking with her, I thought it was best to leave the story in a Q&A format. This will let you see firsthand what this family has endured.
Ashley Priest: Who are you, where are you from, where do you live now, and why did you move. (In your own words, briefly tell me a little about yourself and the family.)
Melissa Ragsdale: My name is Melissa Ragsdale. I was born and raised in Stillwell, Kansas. I’ve been married to my husband Brandon for 14 years, and we have four children. Dyllan 21, Caleb 14, Gavin 11, and Isaiah 9. I was a hairdresser for 13 years before becoming a stay-at-home mother when our son Gavin was diagnosed with a rare form of Epilepsy.
How old was Gavin when he was diagnosed with his condition, and what is the medical term for his condition?
Gavin’s first seizure was a Tonic-Clonic seizure at age three. It took 2 years to get a correct diagnosis because multiple seizure types came into play as the months went on after his first seizure. Gavin has 6 seizure types that can result in hundreds of seizures a day. His diagnosis is called Myoclonic Astatic Epilepsy.
What type of medical procedures /medications has Gavin been prescribed?
Gavin has been on many pharmaceutical drugs to attempt to control his seizures. Some of those drugs were;
I’m sure I’m leaving out several. Gavin tried and failed these medications singularly and in many combinations. Gavin has failed special diets, and Gavin also has a Vagus Nerve Stimulator device.
What made you think of trying medical cannabis for Gavin?
After failing a multitude of pharmaceutical drugs, Gavin was diagnosed with Drug-Resistant Epilepsy (DRE). He was also diagnosed with seizure aggravation of all pharmaceutical drugs. Gavin’s seizures are generalized, starting in one area of his brain and spreading to other areas, causing multiple seizure types to occur simultaneously. One drug would help one type of seizure while causing aggravation of other seizure types. Specialists would layer pharmaceuticals to stop the seizures.
Some of Gavin’s side effects included hallucinations, hours of crying daily, rage, harmful thoughts and actions, inability to focus, loss of balance, drooling, and more. The doctors didn’t have anything else for Gavin to try. We heard about Charlotte Figi and other children like Gavin finding relief with cannabis therapies in Colorado and eventually moved for Gavin’s safe access in November 2017.
What type of medical cannabis does Gavin utilize?
Gavin is currently seizure-free using a THC Indica tincture that contains only trace amounts of CBD. Since being in Colorado, Gavin has benefited from the use of cannabinoids such as THCA, CBD, THC, and CBN. Gavin needs access to multiple cannabinoids to control his different types of seizures, similar to how pharmaceuticals are applied. He uses a THC nasal spray as his seizure “rescue” medication.
What have been the positive results from medical cannabis that you’ve seen with Gavin?
Gavin is a much happier, calmer child. He has been able to gain weight and grow in ways that he couldn’t while sedated on pharmaceuticals and suffering constant seizures. Cannabis has given Gavin the opportunity to live a normal life. Gavin is thriving in absolutely EVERY way possible.
Have there been any negative effects from cannabis?
Gavin has suffered no negative effects behaviorally or cognitively from using cannabis therapies. We found that since Gavin hit puberty, he is very sensitive to CBD, which significantly aggravates his drop and absence seizures. He can only tolerate CBD in trace amounts. Gavin is healthier and happier than he has ever been.
Could you tell us a little bit about Gavin then versus Gavin now?
Before we came to Colorado, Gavin was very small for his age. He had problems with gaining weight and growth. Gavin had a lot of emotional and behavioral problems living with relentless daily seizures. He felt very isolated and often embarrassed in public. Gavin’s seizures significantly impeded his ability to learn and retain information. Gavin also suffered from countless head and facial injuries in Kansas due to seizures.
Since being on cannabis therapies in Colorado, Gavin has had almost two of three years seizure-free. Gavin is very close to catching up with his peers in school. He can learn without interruption from seizures. Gavin is no longer sedated by pharmaceuticals, which never stopped his seizures and hugely hindered his ability to learn. Gavin no longer needs to constantly wear a helmet for protection. Gavin doesn’t have to live in fear of injuries and falls anymore. Gavin can play sports, ride bikes, and enjoys being a typical boy when seizures are controlled.
What would you like to say to lawmakers and the elected representatives in the state of Kansas where draconian federal cannabis prohibition is still supported?
To Kansas lawmakers and representatives who have failed to act on the issue of medical cannabis for over a decade, SHAME ON YOU. It is your duty to protect the citizens of Kansas, especially our most desperate Kansans. The research is clear; cannabis is a safe, nontoxic TOOL that can (and should) be used to ease and stop suffering from countless ailments and diseases. Our family was separated, forced to flee our home state and everything we ever knew and loved. The time is now for #Ksleg to pass comprehensive medical cannabis legislation so that no other family will ever have to endure what ours has. “The time is always right, to do what is right” ~MLK
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