Connor Corkern is surrounded by the sweet smiles of family, including brothers Aaron and Cooper, dad Coye and mom Katie, whose passionate support for this legislation led her to write a feature for Huffington Post in April. Katie blogs about her family life at Photo courtesy Katie Corkern

From the August issue: Ailing families look to medical marijuana to ease chronic disease

Twelve-year-old John Pesch has been battling Crohn’s Disease, which causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, since his diagnosis in the first grade, when surgery and successive infection first triggered its symptoms. His family dosed out whatever medications the doctors recommended, but his body eventually rejected each one. After doing some research and monitoring success rates in Colorado and 25 other states, however, John’s parents believe that another option might do the trick: cannabis oil.

But cannabis oil, touted for its ability to treat inflammation and chronic pain, is a form of medical marijuana, which means that it has been illegal to access in Louisiana. That’s all changing now, thanks to Louisiana’s Senate Bill 271, which Governor John Bel Edwards signed in May. The new law extends the legal usage of the drug, making it easier for physicians to recommend the treatment. Patients like John won’t be able to access the medicine right away, though; first, grow sites must get up and running and dispensaries must be selected. The process could take up to 24 months.

For Katie Corkern, whose 9-year-old son Connor was born with a brain malformation that causes developmental delays and makes him prone to seizures, the arrival of this medication can’t come soon enough. The cannabis oil, says Connor’s neurologist, may be used to help calm the brain in less harmful ways than his current round of seizure medications.

“We can’t go to Colorado and come back,” says John’s father, Alan. “We just have to wait.”

To learn more about the Pesch and Corkern families and the fight for their sons’ health, check out our article in the August issue, available on newsstands now.