SOUTH RIVER – A Middlesex County mother has begun making her own blend of homemade medical marijuana oil to help her 9-year-old son with disabilities.
Michael Lucas has multiple disabilities, is hypotonic and also epileptic. He has been a client in New Jersey’s medical marijuana program for nearly three years. But his mother Jean Lucas says that the drug has only been stopping his seizures for one year.
Jean says that this is when she perfected her recipe. Michael takes THC oil, after CBD oil did not work for him. The difference between the two is that THC is the psychoactive component in marijuana, often associated with producing a high.
“I talked to someone in our group about how to cook it correctly. I made a potent product and I started giving more,” Jean says.
She says that rather than putting her son in a daze, the THC oil made him improve.
“The school instantly saw. They [said] ‘What are you doing with him?’” Jean says.
Michael used to seize hundreds of times a day, particularly when he went outside. But the family says that after he began taking the THC oil, he was able to play with his siblings and family dog. They say that he no longer has as many seizures.
“I feel like he’s normal. Like he was trapped, but he’s normal now,” says sister Kylie Lucas.
Jean says that she has gotten some flak from people about giving her son medical marijuana.
“And I think…you’re OK with my son being addicted to opioids…because a doctor writes it on a little blue pad and we pick it up every week,” Jean says. “Yes [marijuana] is still a drug. Yes it’s still federally banned…but it’s helping my son.”
Dr. Jeff Rosen says that because marijuana is federally banned, the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t found marijuana to be safe or effective at treating health conditions. The patients who receive it have to learn whether it will work for them through trial and error and with help from counselors at the dispensaries.
“[Counselors] may adjust the THC a little bit or tell [the patients] to mix some other type of strain and they can actually put together a recipe that balances the clients’ clinical complaints and any potential side effects they’re experiencing,” Rosen says.
State law currently bans dispensaries from making their own edible oil. Breakwater Treatment and Wellness Center chief of staff James Frohlich says that he hopes for a change to the law.
“Just that we would even have to dilute that oil and call it a topical… put some patients off from finding that administration method,” Frohlich says.
The Lucas family gets their medical marijuana from Breakwater. Clients are able to choose from three products: the flower, a lozenge or a topical oil. The topical oil is more diluted than an edible oil like the one that Michael Lucas uses.
State law does allow child patients to take edible forms of marijuana, like a lozenge. But Michael consumes the oil his mother makes in her kitchen through his G-tube.
“I said to my husband, [Michael] was very sick for a long while, I said maybe we should’ve let him go. Because what he’s doing, he’s just surviving,” Jean says. “That was my ‘Aha-moment.’ I fired all of his doctors and I found doctors who listed to me.”
Michael now uses marijuana oil three times a day. He is one of more than 18,000 patients in New Jersey still testing out recipes.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced an expansion of the medical marijuana program earlier this year. Dispensaries estimate that this could double the number of patients in the program by the end of the year.