Medical Marijuana: Last Hope Cure for Children?

In Colorado marijuana has become a major part of social life since it was declared legal for recreational use last year. The once illicit drug has the spotlight once again as a treatment for young children with epilepsy. According to many parents the strain known as Charlotte’s Web has greatly reduced seizures in their children.

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key.

The miracle plant. CNN

The miracle plant. CNN

Excerpt: Medical marijuana refugees: ‘This was our only hope’ By Saundra Young, CNN

“They’ve come from as far away as Australia and Canada, or as close as Oklahoma. They are of different backgrounds and ages, but they’ve all moved to Colorado for the same thing: medical marijuana to treat their sick children. Jordan had her first seizure at 6 months old. I had never seen a seizure before,” says her mother, Paula Lyles. We took her to the hospital. The doctors said that would probably be the only one she’d have and sent us home.

But when Jordan was 18 months old, the seizures began in earnest. It was Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy characterized by uncontrolled, continuous seizures. Jordan was put on a combination of three anti-seizure medications.

Marisa Kiser was drawn to Colorado in the hopes of relieving seizures suffered by her 19-month-old son, Ezra. NYT.

Marisa Kiser was drawn to Colorado in the hopes of relieving seizures suffered by her 19-month-old son, Ezra. NYT.

But “the drugs take her personality away. The side effects of the cure are horrible, Lyles says…She’d heard about the healing properties of cannabis, but Lyles lived in Ohio, where medical marijuana is not legal… So six months ago, after talking to doctors and reading studies on medical marijuana, Lyles packed up her daughter and moved to Colorado, leaving her engineer husband and 25-year-old daughter Lindsay behind.

Doing so allowed Jordan to be treated with a strain of medical marijuana that’s high in cannabidiol, or CBD, a chemical in cannabis thought to have medicinal properties, and low in tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive chemical in pot that gets users high.

The strain is called Charlotte’s Web. It’s named after 7-year-old Charlotte Figi of Colorado Springs. Charlotte also has Dravet syndrome; after being on seven medications with no success, she began taking marijuana in an oil form. Her seizures were drastically reduced — from 300 a week to two or three a month. About 3 million people in the United States have epilepsy, according to the American Epilepsy Society. Of those, a third have treatment-resistant seizures.

Little Vivian is crippled with seizures. CNN

Little Vivian is crippled with seizures. CNN

We desperately need new treatments, and we need more research to get those treatments, says Dr. Amy Brooks-Kayal, vice president of the group. Dr. Edward Maa, chief of Denver Health’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Program, discovered one-third of his patients were using medical marijuana without his knowledge. Although concerned about its long-term safety, he immediately became more interested in cannabis as a potential treatment. He says he’s shocked at the number of families that move to Colorado — just to get this medicine for their children.”  Read more…

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate – Advanced

Language Skills: Reading, writing, speaking and listening. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: Approximately 2 hours.

Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article, and video.

Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

The K-W-L Chart

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about medicinal marijuana for children or adults. Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

New K-W-L Chart from Read Write Think

II. While Reading Activities


Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart by Freeology  for assistance.

  1. Parents want  medical marijuana to treat their sick children.
  2. Jordan had her first seizure at 6 months old.
  3. She had a severe form of epilepsy.
  4. She’d heard about the healing properties of cannabis.
  5. There are several organizations run by marijuana dispensary owners.
  6. I had a twinge in my heart because I knew it was the right thing to do.
  7. We’ve been able to reduce her pharmaceuticals by 50%.
  8. We desperately need new treatments.
  9.  There are anecdotal reports that  marijuana derivatives seem to be effective.
  10. The fact that it’s Schedule I is arbitrary at this point.

vocab Freeology

Reading Comprehension


Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article have them complete the following paragraphs taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided (which are not in the correct order) or provide their own terms to create new information. Students are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary words.

“Over the___ eight months, more than 100___have moved to ___looking for ___to save their children’s lives, ___to the Realm of Caring. The organization is run by the Stanley family — medical marijuana growers and ___owners who ___a strain of cannabis high in CBD and low in THC.

The strain is called___. It’s named after 7-year-old Charlotte Figi of Colorado Springs. Charlotte also has Dravet syndrome; after being on___medications with no success, she began taking___in an ___form. Her___ were drastically reduced — from 300 a ___to two or three a month.”

marijuana, Colorado, Charlotte’s Web, week, pioneered, seizures, last, dispensary, oil, families, seven, according,  medicine,

Grammar Focus

Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.


  1. They’ve come from as far away as Australia and Canada.
  2. They is of different backgrounds and ages.
  3. They’ve all moved to Colorado for the same thing.


  1. We took her to the hospital.
  2. The doctors sent us home.
  3.  Jordan was 18 months old, when an seizures began in earnest.


  1. The medications took she speech away for two weeks.
  2. We desperately need new treatments.
  3. One parent knows about side effects.


Reading Comprehension Check

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion/Writing Exercise

Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.

  1. The article states, “Even in the 20 states and the District of Columbia where medical marijuana is legal, the federal government classifies cannabis is a Schedule I drug, meaning it has no accepted medical value and a high potential for abuse. Others in that category: heroin, LSD and ecstasy.” Restate this comment using  your own words.
  2. Although the article states the “addictive “quality is taken out of medicinal marijuana do you think there’s a possibility that a child might still become addicted? Explain why.
  3. Why is the medicine  called Charlotte’s Web.
  4. According to the article not all cases using Charlotte’s Web were successful. ““One parent who knows about side effects is Nicole…Their son was diagnosed with Dravet syndrome just before turning 3. He’d had seizures since he was 11 months old. He’s tried several diets, supplements — pretty much you name it, we’ve tried it…but it didn’t work. But neither did marijuana…It never helped his big seizures. In fact, they kept getting worse… They were getting worse before we started cannabis, but cannabis did not help them. Since they stopped the cannabis more than a year ago, Nicole says her son is doing much better.”  In view of this information, if your child had epilepsy would you give them medical marijuana as a cure? Provide reasons for your answer.
  5. If you were sick would you be willing to try the cure yourself? Why or why not?

IV. Listening Activity   

Video ClipMedical marijuana in Maryland for kids?

‘Lawmakers in the 2014 listened to testimony from parents who want their children’s medical issues treated with marijuana.”

  While Listening Activities

Correct Word Choice

Directions: Students listen for the correct word or phrase to complete the sentences taken from the video.

  1. Legislators heard testimony/tests from families who could benefit from medical marijuana.
  2. Families suffer because they can’t get it in a style/state where they live.
  3. They say it’s just not adults that can benefit/benefitted.
  4. Logan is a vibrant active 4 year old exception/except he has epilepsy.
  5. He has ten to twenty/twin seizures every single day.
  6. Gail met with severe/several doctors about Logan’s epilepsy.
  7. They say/saying marijuana could help.
  8. Logan takes other drugs/drinks for the epilepsy, but those have harsher side effects.
  9. Mimi was in a cab/car accident that gave her a stroke.
  10. Now Mimi has seizures/sizes every day.

Video Link

Post-Listening Activities

Questions for Discussion

Directions:Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions.

  1.  Did  you agree with everything that  the speakers said?  Discuss which comments  you agreed with and which ones you tended not to agree with.   Explain why.
  2.  With your group members, make up questions that you would like to ask the parents, doctors, and other  speakers.

 ANSWER KEY: Medical Marajuana