Mother pleads for change after daughter taken away for medical marijuana use

DURANT, Okla. (KXII) – An Oklahoma mother is pleading for change among state agencies, specifically the Department of Human Services.

9-year-old Marleigh Dunnam was issued a medical marijuana card by OMMA in 2019 to treat her epileptic seizures. For over a year and a half she went seizure free, but a break through seizure caused by a UTI sparked what her mother calls medical marijuana prejudices. Marleigh was taken away by child protective services for 3 days, and stripped of her medical card. Now her mother demands change in the system.

“No other medicine worked for my kid, and then this one did,” said Shelley Dunnam, mother of Marleigh.

A fully disabled 9-year-old, Marleigh Dunnam, got her medical marijuana card from OMMA in 2019. She went a year and 8 months without seizures, but when she had her first seizure in 2021, her mom Shelley said she was greeted by DHS and police.

“They threatened to arrest me if I didn’t take them to my child. I was scared she was going to have a seizure just because of that built up aggression. But they took her with her screaming that she didn’t want to go,” said Dunnam.

A doctor at the hospital filed a report claiming medical neglect.

“They tried to say I was in neglect to her health, I was in neglect to her education and I was a threat of harm to her. And all of it came down to her cannabis use,” said Dunnam.

Last Tuesday at their court hearing, the judge dismissed the case. Dunnam said DHS didn’t meet its burden of proof.

“Never in my life dealt with anybody questioning me as a mother until it came to her med card. And then they didn’t question me until she had a seizure. When I gave her a med card and she was one year seizure free, they asked for me to be a research study, they wanted to watch,” said Dunnam.

Marleigh takes a compound gummy every 6 hours, consisting of THC, CBD and linalool, a calming component of cannabis.

“Then we have one seizure and immediately I’m threatened CPS because she has a medical marijuana card and I don’t want to just jump back to giving her everything that didn’t work 3 years ago,” said Dunnam.

Now Dunnam wants to see change in what she calls an out of date system.

“I don’t blame the people I dealt with at all, the DHS workers are not the problems. They’re doing what they’re told, but these rules they’re being told by are old,” said Dunnam.

She advocates for medical marijuana.

“There’s a reason she was a year, 8 months and 6 days seizure free. It’s not just because I just gave my kid some weed that’s not the way that works,” said Dunnam.

And her daughter.

“The state agencies need to get together and figure this out because I shouldn’t be threatened by one of them and promoted by another one,” said Dunnam.

News 12 reached out to Oklahoma DHS about the case. In response to the story, they said, “OKDHS is dedicated to protect the safety and wellbeing of Oklahoma’s children. Child welfare cases are confidential by state and federal statutes, so we are unable to discuss the facts or circumstances of any child welfare case with anyone who is not authorized by statute or permitted by an order of the court. Every child welfare case is different and the specific details in those cases impact decisions made by OKDHS, the courts, and others who participate in any case.”

Copyright 2022 KXII. All rights reserved.

Christin Hakim

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