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The stigma of Blackness and cannabis is a plague that stops many from receiving the treatment that they needs and deserve. Take Osiris Stephens and his wife, Nina Simmons for instance. The two of them understand this plight, probably more than anyone.
This couple living in NYC (both professional with graduate degrees), Nina works as a physical therapist in the public schools and Osiris as a business developer in the Cannabis Trade Show are probably the picture of an upwardly mobile African-American family. They live in the Harlem’s prestigious Upper West Side with their six-year-old son, Aiden Tanshin Stephens. Aiden has special needs, and due to his epilepsy has un-treatable seizures. At a certain point, the blessing that is their son… turned into a nightmare.
With millions of people affected by this epilepsy, there still are very few options to control the seizures. But one of the options, The Stephens have tried is turning to cannabis oil for relief.
This family also took the leap of faith despite the stigma that comes with being Black and using cannabis. When you read about cannabis, most of the stories that involved are Brown and Black people point to criminality. That is sweeping racist myth. Cannabis is used for many reason in the Black and Brown communities as of late. And the reality, according to Stephens who is a professional are medicinal uses.
“We chose cannabis over big pharmacy medication with all of the nasty side effects.”
This family decided soon after their son’s diagnosis, that pharma alone is not going to control the 100-200 seizures a day.
“We can’t keep poisoning our son and expect a different outcome!”
With their son’s seizures under control, a NY State bill in his name was written to support children like him who need cannabis to survive. This medical marijuana legislation titled Tanshin’s Bill was introduced by NY State Senator Brian Benjamin and it asks that kids with marijuana cards be able to receive their medicines while in school by assigned caregivers.
“After beginning a therapy of full spectrum cannabidiol (CBD) tincture three times a day, Nina and Osiris’s beautiful son Aiden’s seizures have dropped dramatically to 5-10 per month from 100-200 per day. However, widespread confusion about the use of medical marijuana in New York State, schools and mental health care facilities have made it hard for children like Aiden to receive this critical treatment while pursuing their educational studies,” said Senator Benjamin. “The bill we are introducing clarifies that medical marijuana therapy is legal at schools, and requires that schools have policies in place for the administration of these life changing therapies
“The states senators support the bill but are concerned that federal funding for schools will be pulled away.” Says Osiris.
A child’s education and health is in the federal government hands.