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Boy undergoes experimental marijuana treatment

WOODBURY, Minn. — A path Jessica Hauser never expected to be traveling is moving her family toward a crossroads.

The journey began when the Woodbury woman’s son, Wyatt, was diagnosed seven months into his young life with an epileptic condition called infantile spasms.

As Hauser and her husband, Jeremy, learned over time, the condition would cause Wyatt to have about 200 seizures a day.

“It’s horrible,” Jessica said of watching her son experience the seizures. “I wouldn’t wish this upon anyone.”

The journey continued with the search for treatment options. Nothing seemed to help, with the Hausers learning that the longer the seizures persist, the more likely they will leave Wyatt with developmental disabilities.

Hungry for information, Jessica took to the Internet, where she learned that some families were experimenting with medical marijuana for children with severe epilepsy.

She eventually found herself aligned with a medical marijuana advocacy group that this year urged lawmakers and Gov. Mark Dayton to change state law. A version of the medical marijuana law passed in May, and it will cover patients like Wyatt once the program is up and running in 2015.

The unexpected journey now has the Hausers at the edge of a precipice – and they don’t yet know what’s on the other side.

Jessica and 2-year-old Wyatt left in July for a monthlong trip to Oregon, where Wyatt is undergoing an experimental trial with medical marijuana. Oregon is the only state that allows nonresidents access to medical marijuana treatment.

Just a few days into the trials, the drug seems to be working: Jessica reports that Wyatt’s seizures were reduced by 75 percent after being treated with cannabinoids – the active chemical in medical marijuana.

“We’re cautiously optimistic,” said Jessica’s father, Neil Hutzler, who is accompanying her and Wyatt on the trip while Jeremy and the couple’s other son, E.J., remain in Woodbury.

As the cannabis trials continue, they push toward a tipping point: What if it works?

If medical marijuana indeed proves to be a solution for Wyatt, Jessica and Jeremy will have to decide whether to wait the year for Minnesota’s program to begin or to pick up the family and move to Oregon, where treatments could begin immediately.

By Michael Longaecker
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To follow Wyatt Hauser’s progress in Oregon, visit Jessica Hauser’s blog.