Pelham officer fighting to legalize oil to treat daughter’s disorderPublished 3:01pm Wednesday, January 8, 2014
By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor
Pelham police officer Dustin Chandler shies away from mentioning the word “marijuana” when talking about his fight to help his 2-year-old daughter, who was born with a rare neurological disorder.
“I don’t even like to mention the ‘M’ word. I am absolutely not for the recreational use of marijuana,” Chandler said during a Jan. 7 interview. “I’m a police officer. I am not going to do anything that would jeopardize my job or my family’s status. I would move before I do that.
“We are not trying to break a law, we are trying to get a law changed,” Chandler added.
For the past several months, Chandler has been fighting to change Alabama’s laws to allow the use of CBD oil – which is derived from marijuana – as a medical treatment. Chandler’s daughter, Carly, was born with CDKL5, a rare disorder bringing frequent seizures, severe gastrointestinal disorders and visual impairments.
While searching for treatments to help manage Carly’s symptoms, Chandler and his wife, Amy, began learning about CBD oil.
“It doesn’t treat the disorder, it treats the symptoms,” Chandler said. “When you’ve got a child who has 10 seizures a day, you are going to look for anything you can to help that.”
Alabama’s laws currently prohibit the manufacture and possession of CBD oil, which Chandler said has forced multiple families to relocate to states such as Colorado, where the oil is legal.
“It doesn’t get people high, it has no street value. It’s almost like a ‘why not’ type of law,” Chandler said, noting the oil would be prescribed per a doctor’s recommendation. “We just want the same options as people in other states. It’s tearing apart people’s families because they are having to move to Colorado.”
The Chandlers have worked with Alabama House of Representatives members Mike Ball, R-Madison, Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham, and Allen Farley, R-McCalla, to pre-file a bill for the upcoming legislative session to legalize the oil.
“We hope Alabama lawmakers care about their people as much as the lawmakers in other states care about their people,” Chandler said. “This is a pretty important piece of legislation for a lot of people.”