Washington State Bill Allowing Students Safe Access to Cannabis Signed Into Law
Posted on May 08 2019
John Barclay went from growing his own medication for his daughter with equipment donated by Kind LED Grow Lights, to working on legislation that will improve the lives of dozens of children across Washington State.
On April 30th, 2019, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed HB 1095 into law. For John Barclay, it was an overwhelming and bittersweet moment.
John Barclay has dedicated the past three years of his life to working on legislation that would enable a parent or guardian to administer medicinal cannabis infused products to their children on school grounds, provided of course the student is an authorized medical marijuana user. The bill has become known as “Ducky’s Bill,” in honor of John’s daughter River.
While thrilled and humbled that the bill was finally being signed into law, John couldn’t help feel sad that River wasn’t there with him. Her failing health has made travel too exhausting for her.
In 2014, at the age of four, River Barclay (affectionately known as “Ducky,”) had her first seizure. Six weeks later, she had her second. Within just a few short months, River was having grand mal seizures every week, some of which would last up to four minutes-and between sixty and eighty Myoclonic seizures (also known as drop seizures) every day.
After several trips to the emergency room, River was eventually diagnosed with a generalized epileptic disorder, and she began a series of five different medications, most of which managed to make her seizures worse. Finally, after being removed from an FDA synthesized CBD trial at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital in Tacoma WA, River’s parents decided that the natural form of CBD found in cannabis would be the next step in River’s path to recovery.
The first time River tried a CBD tincture, her transformation was incredible. She was able to spend a full day in school and had fewer than five Myoclonic seizures - a massive improvement from the sixty to eighty daily seizures she was used to. John took to calling the CBD oil “Liquid gold.” Unfortunately, finding a reliable source of quality CBD oil was difficult, and John soon realized that if he wanted to ensure he had a constant source of effective CBD medication for River, he was going to have to learn to grow cannabis and create his own oil. With the help of some friends, and some equipment donated by Kind LED Grow Lights, John set up a CBD nursery in his garage, and began making his own oil for his daughter.
Unfortunately, even though John now had a reliable source of CBD oil for his daughter, he had to remove River from school grounds in order to provide her with it, disrupting her education and making her unable to socialize with other children her age. And as John soon found out, River wasn’t alone. There are currently more than 50 other children in Washington state who are in the same situation. Until Ducky’s Bill takes effect in July, parents of children who legally consume medical cannabis cannot bring medication to their children, even under the supervision of a school nurse. “Like Ducky, there are other children in our state who struggle with seizures or other disorders and I am convinced that these bills will make their lives better,” said Washington state Rep. Brian Blake. “It doesn’t have to be this way. We can help these kids so they can have the same opportunity to learn and enjoy school as any other Washington student,” he added.
Unfortunately, River’s diagnosis changed last year, and she’s no longer able to attend school. As it turns out, River’s seizures were only the first symptoms of a much larger problem. River has CLN2, which is in the Batten disease group—a group of pediatric brain disorders which affect the nervous system and typically cause problems with vision, movement, and cognition. It is incredibly rare; only an estimated 20 children per year are born with the disorder in the United States, and it affects approximately 350 American children. Sadly, CLN2 is a terminal disorder, and most children diagnosed with the disease do not live past the age of 10. Ducky’s now blind, and has lost the power of speech. Despite this devastating turn of events, John’s dedication to Ducky’s Bill never wavered. The fact that River’s time on this earth may be short just makes the time she has with other children that much more precious.
While River wasn’t present for the bill being signed into law, John’s confident she knows what happened. “All I could say was, ‘I have the good news.’ She reacted very happily to it,” said John. Ducky’s Law will be River’s legacy, and the work of her and her father will help children in Washington for years to come.
The future is unclear for John and River, but there is one thing that is certain—neither of them are going to stop fighting. We at Kind LED Grow Lights are humbled to be even a small part of River’s story, and her strength astounds and inspires us every day. Those interested in helping John and River’s cause can donate to their GoFundMe here.