Parents Claim CPS Threatened to Take Their Toddler Away for Treating Her Seizures With Cannabis Oil

 little girl whose parents were threatened by CPS for treating her seizures with cannabis pil
Justice for Jaelah/Facebook

The conversation surrounding sick children and medical marijuana is one that many people feel strongly about. Although some are all for it, many believe that children shouldn't be able to utilize the substance in any way, for any reason. The laws regarding the use of medical marijuana -- especially involving kids -- are just as blurry as people's opinions. This is how two parents found themselves on the wrong side of a potential child welfare dispute after treating their daughter's epilepsy with cannabis oil


Lelah Jerger shared with IndyStar that her 20-month-old daughter, Jaelah, was diagnosed with myoclonic seizures in July 2017. This form of epilepsy causes the little girl to experience around 40 noticeable seizures a day. As a result, the doctor who diagnosed her at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, Indiana, recommended that the little girl take Keppra to help treat it. 

More from CafeMom: When It Comes to Moms & Marijuana, Lay Off the Judgment

Once Lelah realized that the drug has a tendency to cause things like drowsiness, dizziness, and extreme tiredness and/or weakness, she started looking for other options. The mother did her research and began speaking with moms who used cannabidiol (CBD) to treat themselves and their children. Weighing the risks and side effects of the oil with the drug that Jaelah's doctor had recommended, the mother decided to go the "holistic" approach. She found a chiropractic neurologist in close-by Evansville, Indiana, who then prescribed the CBD oil to her daughter. 

These oils are made out of high-cannabidiol, low-THC hemp. The oil contains very low amounts of THC so they are not psychoactive and do not cause a high. While many studies have found links between CBD oil and the reduction of seizures and pain, the FDA has not yet approved it. The DEA has technically ruled CBD as a Schedule I substance, but many states still allow it to be sold in health food shops and organic food stores. Some states, like Indiana, have made CBD oil illegal but have allowed the possession of it to those who have had a physician prescribe it.

parents holding their little girl
Justice for Jaelah/Facebook

After putting her daughter on Charlotte's Web -- a specific brand of cannabis hemp oil that is very popular -- Lelah claims that she and her husband, Jade, noticed a huge difference. Her seizures went from around 40 a day to almost zero. The mom said that Jaelah has even had four completely seizure-free days since she began taking the oil. 

Unfortunately, many on the medical staff at Riley Hospital for Children did not agree with the parents' method for treating their daughter. After learning that Jaelah had been taking CBD oil instead of the recommended medicine, they reported Lelah and Jade to Child Protective Services for "not treating" their daughter. 

The family claims that a representative from CPS came to their home on September 20 and formally requested that the parents agree to keep their daughter on Keppra. The representative also insisted that Lelah and Jade take Jaelah for weekly blood tests to confirm that she was actually being given Keppra, and asked that they only take the little girl to a specific physician that they assigned her to. 

Lelah claims that CPS threatened to get a court order to remove Jaelah from their home if the parents did not comply with their requests. Lelah says that less than a week after their initial visit, CPS contacted the family and told them to take Jaelah to a specific hospital for treatment for the side effects she had been experiencing due to Keppra. 

Lelah and Jade reached out to some of their local officials, and on September 28, after representative Mark Messmer emphasized that the use of CBD hemp oil is legal, CPS dropped their case against the family -- although they have admitted no wrongdoing. CPS told IndyStar that they could not comment on the family's case due to confidentiality requirements. 

Still, the Jerger family says that the entire experience has shaken them. "Our daughter was never taken away from us, but the fear was horrible to live with," Lelah told IndyStar. "I would look outside my window just scared to death I would see a police officer and CPS here to take my kid."

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Moved by fear of persecution from their state, the parents have taken Jaelah to Kentucky, where she is seeing a neurologist at the University of Louisville who closely monitors her CBD oil usage.

Lelah also started a Facebook page called Justice for Jaelah, where she hopes to provide support and information for families in situations close to hers. "Our hope in this whole mess is that no other family will ever have to go through this," she wrote on the page. "If a product is legal and works, then something needs to be done to prevent CPS or hospitals from reporting it."

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