HARPER GRACE’S LEGACYBy NIKKI ROWELL,
There are a lot of names and faces associated with the medical marijuana initiative in Mississippi, but it all can be traced back to one: Harper Grace.
Jackson native Ashley Durval, Harper Grace’s mom, said Harper Grace began having seizures at six months old.
“We had no idea what was causing it,” Durval said. “Then the seizures started getting worse. We knew something was wrong, but we didn’t know what.”
Harper Grace began a series of medications to treat the problem. She was officially diagnosed with a gene mutation.
She now takes four different medications.
If medical marijuana was legal in Mississippi the four year old would have an alternate treatment option.
“We were eventually told we would have to move for different treatment options or get a bill passed,” Durval said.
At first, they aimed for a bill legalizing CBD, a compound found within cannabis. Harper Grace’s Law passed in 2014, but the Durval family has yet to see any treatment for Harper Grace.
“We were surprised at how long it would take to get our hands on it. We didn’t know it would take this long,” Durval said. “We just wanted a more natural option to get her off all the medications.”
Durval met with legislators to discuss options for another initiative that would help Harper Grace.
“We went over the by laws and what we wanted to do,” Durval said. “The (Medical Marijuana 2020 initiative) covers the whole spectrum of medical marijuana, not just one strand of CBD for all types of diseases and all the types of things that medical marijuana can cover.”
Durval's concern was that the original legislation would restrict them to strictly CBD for Harper Grace's treatment.
The new initiative would allow them to try different cannabinoids to treat the problem.
“If that strand didn’t work, we would be left with no options,” Durval said of Harper Grace’s law. “With this we can go above and beyond.”
The process has been difficult for the Durvals, but they are optimistic about the future.
“We are optimistic about the progress,” Durval said. “I have been overwhelmed with the amount of people who are in this. It’s very promising.”