From Loto Roto Facebook page
“The neurologist told me there was nothing more to do, that my daughter would probably die in about eight months,” said Alejandra Arreola, mother of a minor with epilepsy that used to have 80 daily attacks. “In her condition, she could die of a cardiopulmonary arrest at any moment.”
Alejandra’s seven-year-old daughter never showed symptoms of any serious illness until the age of 3, when her epilepsy started. Alejandra and her husband looked for help in private hospitals and specialized neurologists but no treatment seemed to improve her condition. Instead, the medication just worked to sedate her.
“My daughter was taking six different prescribed medicines. In that time she had attacks every five minutes. She was not speaking. She could stand up by herself, but someone had to be next to her all the time,” Alejandra stated. “So I had to quit my job to dedicate myself 100 percent to her. But no medication was working and I did not want to keep her sedated, so we refused to accept their diagnosis.”
Alejandra stated that the hospitals and doctors they reached out for help were just prescribing treatments according to their medical representatives and the pharmaceutical partners they have business with. They never told her there were alternative treatments for her daughter.
In their own quest they found Loto Rojo Foundation, which helps their members while going through terminal illnesses or epilepsy by the use of Cannabis-based medication. One of its founders, Victor Rocha, made a personalized prescription of CBD for their case.
After two years looking for the right treatment, the new medications began to have positive outcomes. "Just three weeks after starting the treatment her convulsions went down gradually, and six months later her attacks dropped from 80 to barely three. She started to speak, play, and dance again,” Alejandra noted.
Under the guideline of Loto Rojo Foundation, Alejandra’s daughter and 24 patients presented and won a collective legal figure called an amparo (legal claim or protection to make a constitutional right effective). According to their lawyer, Emmanuel Farias, the right to health of these patients was being violated.
He said this is due to the nexus between epilepsy, Parkinson’s, or cancer and the administration of marijuana-based medication. This protection lawsuit had a one-year delay in getting resolved, a time in which two of their members died and in which Alejandra almost got detained at a military checkpoint for carrying CBD with her.
“We were traveling to Sonora on vacation. They said they would take me to the general prosecutor’s office. I had my prescription with me but they did not care because it was from San Diego. At the end, I spoke with the captain and they let me go, but I would just like to feel safe carrying my daughter's medicine,” Alejandra stressed.
In June 2020 a federal judge delegated the jurisdiction of this matter to the Baja California’s Health Department, forcing it to provide cannabis-based medication. But that has not happened. They officially responded through their legal representative that those medicines are not available in Mexico and therefore the Mexican health system can’t provide it.
“The judgement we won expresses that even if the medicines are not in Mexico the authority has the duty to manage the arrangements needed or cast importation permits for these products,” Emmanuel said. “Ignorance on this controversial topic is an obstacle. We know we are in a political crisis with the health services overwhelmed by the pandemic, but that’s no excuse to ignore a federal order."
Emmanuel considered that the state government has not aligned its policy with the federal one. And, because of the incoming elections, they have shown reluctance in order to not lose voters. Health department data shows two million epilepsy cases in Mexico, of which 35 percent are minors like Alejandra’s daughter.
“Since 2017 the health department has acknowledged marijuana’s medical properties. Three years have passed and people are still living in a medical exile," Emmanuel concluded.