Mom Treated Her Sick Kid With Weed—and Lost Custody

November 7th 2016

Danielle DeCourcey

Medical marijuana is a hot topic in U.S. politics these day, with voters in at least nine states voting on measures that would reduce penalties for possessing the plant. This story of what the status quo has meant for a mother and her child in Idaho shows what's at stake in the debate.

Last month, Kelsey Osborne's daughter Madyson started to suffer from seizures after coming off of a prescription anti-psychotic medication. The mom made a smoothie with marijuana butter to help her, and as a result she's now lost custody of both of her children and faces criminal charges, according to local Idaho station KTVB.

Osborne initially gave her daughter the smoothie during the seizures, but after the seizures stopped, she also took her to the doctor to follow up. That's where Madyson tested positive for marijuana, according to KTVB. Osborne was charged with a misdemeanor count of injury to a child, according to Fox News Health. Her ex-husband now has custody of her two children. 

"To me I felt like it was my last resort," Osborne told KTVB. "I've seen it for my own eyes with people out of state who have used it and it's helped them or their children."


Tom Shanahan, communications manager for Idaho's Department of Health and Welfare, said that even if medical marijuana was legal in Idaho, marijuana butter is not the appropriate treatment for seizures. 

"Even in states that have legalized it, it's not legal to give to children," Shanahan said an interview with KTVB. "The cannabis that is used for children with epilepsy is called cannabidiol oil and it has had THC removed from it."

The THC compound is one of the main components of cannabis that makes users feel "high." Shanahan said that using marijuana to medicate children can be dangerous. 

"It can cause brain development issues with a child, so we view that as unsafe or illegal," he said. "We want children to be in a safe place."


Marijuana products sold in Colorado to treat children with seizures generally have low levels of THC, according to the Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado. In that state, where retail sales of marijuana are legal, children can be treated with cannabis products if they have the recommendation of two doctors. Doctors can also recommend a product with high THC levels as well, although it's rare. 

"Presumably it would be difficult to get two doctors’ approval for a young child to take a form of marijuana that is high in THC, although Dr. Kelly Knupp of Children’s Hospital Colorado reports having seen children with epilepsy who have taken high-THC products," the foundation states on its website


ATTN:'s Kyle Jaeger has previously reported on how parents have moved to Colorado in order to treat their ill children with cannabis—without the fear of losing them as a result.

Forcing people to move for marijuana treatment is absurd. Learn more about medical refugees here: attn.link/1XJnWDZ. Like ATTN: on Facebook.

Posted by ATTN: on Wednesday, April 20, 2016

"We'll do anything — any parent would," Amy Dawn Bourlon-Hilterbran, founder of American Medical Refugees, told ATTN: in April.

"You'll go anywhere, you'll do anything, you'll try anything," she said. "And for years and years, we've tried pharmaceuticals that we knew could potentially kill our children — that certainly had hideous side effects and literally stole our children from us in the form of their personality and happiness."

RELATED: What I Learned From Medical Marijuana Refugee Families