by Chris Cannon
HOPKINSVILLE, KY. - A Hopkinsville family has a daughter with a rare genetic disorder, and their push to legalize Cannabis oil changed laws in Kentucky.
Clara Gilliam was born in September and seemed to be developing normally for the first three months of her life.
Then the infant started having seizures, as many as 23 in one day. Clara's parents took her to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital in Nashville where doctors quickly discovered what was wrong.
"She was diagnosed with Aicardi Syndrome, which is a very rare syndrome. There's only 800 cases in the entire country," said Clara's mother Julie Gilliam.
The rare genetic disorder causes Infantile Epilepsy.
"From what we've been reading, it's probably the hardest type of Epilepsy to control," Gilliam said.
The baby's mother said the doctors at Vanderbilt did a great job working with Clara, but the medication she was prescribed did not offer the relief they were looking to bring their daughter.
After doing exhaustive research Gilliam learned about Cannabis oil, know as Cannabidiol, or CBD.
"It doesn't have any psycho-active effects on the brain, such as the THC," said father Jerry Gilliam. "A high dose of CBD, and a very, very low, or no dose of THC, has shown a vast reduction of seizures in many of these patients in Colorado."
The family found a clinic in Eugene, Oregon that agreed to treat Clara with CBD.
"First time in February my mom and I went out there and after the first dose we saw results, we saw reduction in seizures," Julie Gilliam said.
Clara's seizures went from nearly two dozen a day, to just a few. But the CBD is illegal in Kentucky and Tennessee. That is when the Gilliams went to the local state representatives to try and change the law that bans CBD.
Lawmakers at the Kentucky State Capitol passed that will allow doctors at the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville to prescribe and conduct research on CBD.
But members of the Kentucky House and Senate went a step farther to honor the baby who inspired the new law, they named it after her.
"It's the Clara Madeline Gilliam act, they're calling it Clara's Law for short," Jerry Gilliam explained.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is expected to sign Clara's Law sometime in April. The bill had an emergency provision, so it will take effect immediately.