an open letter to jeff sessions regarding medical marijuana

Dear Mr. Sessions,

Meet my thirteen-year-old son Calvin. He was born missing a significant portion of the white matter in his brain, a heartbreaking idiopathic anomaly. He is legally blind, nonverbal, incontinent, autistic and needs great assistance to do the simplest things that most infants can do. And contrary to your assertion that good people don't use marijuana, he is the purest, most affectionate soul on earth. 

When Calvin was eighteen months old he began having seizures, the worst of which did not initially respond to a bevy of emergency medication. My husband Michael and I were left helpless and grieving beside his emergency room bed kissing him and dreading his death when the forty-five minute seizure finally stopped.

Since then Calvin has continued to suffer thousands of seizures despite taking high doses of ten powerful anti epileptic drugs, sometimes as many as four at a time—disturbingly referred to as a cocktail—and two rigorous dietary treatments. The sedative drugs have stunted, and in some cases reversed, his already protracted development, and their paradoxical side effects have wreaked havoc with his behavior. One in particular, a benzodiazepine named clobazam, aka Onfi, we believe has impaired his memory affecting his ability to learn new things, and likely causes him pain, anxiety, insomnia, gastrointestinal distress, tinnitus, hyperactivity and psychotic episodes.

Four years ago, when Calvin was suffering frequent (every week or two) early-evening grand mal seizures—often while in the bath—and after some extensive research, I began treating him with a homemade cannabis oil rich in the non-psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA). Since reaching a therapeutic level of the oil, which I draw up in precise doses and administer with an oral syringe, Calvin has had only four daytime grand mal seizures in over three-and-a-half years. Moreover, in that time Calvin has been able to safely reduce his dangerous and addictive benzodiazepine by ninety-nine percent without suffering a huge uptick in seizures.

When I read last March that you said, “medical marijuana has been hyped,” it was clear to me that your position is one that is rooted, at the very least, in ignorance. Now I hear that you intend to roll back Obama-era protections for those who use cannabis, even for medicinal purposes, and I wonder if your stance stems from pressure from the alcohol, pharmaceutical and private prison industries.

invite you into our home to spend some time with our boy and to witness our experience. For some children with catastrophic, medically resistant epilepsy, cannabis is their only hope. I wager you would be hard-pressed to remain a skeptic if you met children like Charlotte Figi who would otherwise have died from the effects of frequent, repeated and prolonged seizures if not for taking cannabis oils that stopped those seizures in their tracks. And while children like my son benefit from concentrated oils that can be precisely titrated, some adults who suffer from conditions like Crohn's disease, PTSD, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease often get relief from their symptoms by smoking, vaping or juicing marijuana.

You might be apt to suggest that cannabis is not safe or effective or that we don’t know the dangers of its side effects or its interactions with other drugs. I'd counter by saying that the same can be said of the pharmaceutical medicines our children currently take. Some drugs have debilitating and dangerous side effects, others have unknown longterm consequences, while still others have known lethal ones. Some pharmaceuticals are highly addictive and lose their efficacy due to habituation. Many, if not most antiepileptic pharmaceuticals, are psychoactive in that they affect cognition and behavior. Not all of them have been studied on little children, and yet they are prescribed nonetheless. I'd also ask why the federal government holds a patent on cannabinoids (#6630507) for use as antioxidants and neuro-protectants while spuriously maintaining the plant's status as a Schedule I drug, purportedly having no medicinal benefits.

Cannabis has been a lifesaver for many children with the most severe cases of epilepsy. Cannabis has immensely improved Calvin’s quality of life, and thus ours. We now have a much calmer boy who takes far fewer drugs, who can now, for the most part, walk by himself, sign a few words, sleeps well at night and is learning to express himself.

Please do not make reckless policies about a subject that it appears, as evidenced by your statements, you know little if anything about or, worse, are guilty of subterfuge.


Christy Shake

Me and Calvin, Photo by Ann Anderson


  1. Please, please tell me you're sending this! And is there anything I can do to help???

    1. i sent a hard copy to him when i first posted this last march. today i sent an abbreviated one to the DOJ website (limited to 2000 characters.) you can share this on social media. thanks!

  2. "The hypocrisy-Federal Gov’t Recognizes medical marijuana with Patent”
    The US Government officially classifies marijuana as Schedule 1
    defined as having, “No medicinal value and highly addictive” yet the
    Federal Government has issued a patent for using cannabinoids as an
    antioxidant and neuro-protectant to the DEA. The U.S. government which
    includes the DEA has medical marijuana Patent #6630507. So once again
    on the one hand, United States federal government officials have
    consistently denied that marijuana has any medical benefits. On the
    other, the government actually holds patents for the medical use of
    the plant. This fact again disqualifies the State of New Jersey’s
    classification of “marijuana” as a schedule 1 drug for N.J.S.A. 24:21-
    5 clearly defines schedule 1 substances as ….”has no accepted medical
    use in treatment in the United States,) US Patent 6630507 titled
    “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuro-protectant” is assigned to The
    government of The United States of America!!!
    The Federal patent says “useful”:
    “Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant
    properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new
    found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment
    and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated
    diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and
    autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have
    particular application as neuro-protectant, for example in
    limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults,
    such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of
    neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease,
    Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.”
    The patent #6630507 was obtained in October of 2003.

  3. You inspired me. I went to Jeff Sessions facebook page and told him about what marijuana has done for Miss Katie.

    1. I have a blood cancer that treating w/cannabis oils really helps! How that not medically useful? Have blood #'s to back it up from 2 oncologist! Say what?Jeff.

    2. I have a blood cancer that treating w/cannabis oils really helps! How that not medically useful? Have blood #'s to back it up from 2 oncologist! Say what?Jeff.

  4. Yes. If only he would listen. Ha. Perhaps if we ALL write Sessions an open letter he will listen, but then again, that's not the way the world or power works.

  5. Brava. I will use your letter as a template and send one with Sophie's particulars, too.

  6. Christie, it was great to see you in SF in late April. I've just read this blog post and I'm happy to know that you've found a treatment for Calvin that has greatly improved his quality of life and yours and Michael's, after all those years of struggle. You persevered against an implacable foe for more than a decade, and ultimately attained victory, through your love and unending determination. You and Calvin look so happy in this photo. Three cheers for Calvin, Michael, and YOU!