CannaKids is on track to become a leader in cannabis-led treatments for children and adults.
The California-based company first launched in March 2014, one year after its founders – Tracy and Josh Ryan – began treating their own daughter, Sophie, with concentrated cannabis oil.
Sophie Isabella Ryan was born on October 3rd, 2012, perfectly healthy and weighing in at 8 pounds, 7.4 ounces. Her birth had zero complications. On June 20th, 2013, Sophie had her first MRI scan after nystagmus, shaking of the eyeball, presented in her left eye. The scan revealed that Sophie – at just eight and a half months old – had a low grade, Optic Pathway Glioma brain tumor.
Her family was told that their only option would be a 13-month protocol of chemotherapy in hopes of stopping the development of the tumor, and that the likelihood of recurrence after was around 85 percent. The tumor as a whole has around a 90 percent survival rate. Since it’s a slow-growing tumor, chemo was never meant to get rid of it, Tracy explained, doctors said even minimal shrinkage would be considered a huge success, but not to expect it.
It was then that the Ryan’s looked outside the world of western medicine. After they created the Facebook page, “Prayers for Sophie,” a friend put them in touch with Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein. Their work appealed to Tracy, who was already a fan of their previous documentary, “The Business of Being Born.”
This time Lake and Epstein were in the process of filming the documentary “Weed the People.” The film follows the story of several children – including Sophie Ryan – and their use of cannabis oil to kill cancer.
These women, said Tracy, surrounded her with top oil makers in California.
Prior to Sophie’s diagnosis, Tracy said she was unfamiliar with the healing power of cannabis. She was born and raised in California, she noted, and had heard of its effects on nausea and glaucoma, but said she was completely unaware of its vast medical potential.
The Ryan’s took their newfound knowledge and research to their doctors. Tracy said that this was when the doctor’s had an ‘ah-ha’ moment. “They had established that we were responsible, loving parents. They gave us their blessing [to administer] Sophie cannabis oil.”
Today Sophie’s tumor has shrunk by 85-90 percent. Her doctors credit cannabis oil.
Some of Sophie’s Success with Cannabis Oil so far:
Sophie began taking highly concentrated THC and CBD cannabis oil at nine months old and started chemo two months after her first birthday. Her treatment consisted of more than a year of chemo, and multiple blood transfusions — nine to be exact. Chemo can destroy the blood-making cells in bone marrow, causing blood cell counts to drop, and therefore requiring the need for transfusions, according to Cancer.org.
After multiple blood transfusions, Sophie stopped needing them one day while still on chemo, which was medically unheard of, said Tracy. The doctors were astounded.
During the last four months of her first chemo protocol, Sophie’s lab results never dipped, meaning the chemo wasn’t killing her good cells, Tracy said. “She was the only child that we knew of that no longer needed to come in to the clinic during her two week chemo break to ensure her body was recovering.”
Since Sophie began taking cannabis oil, her side effects have been minimal.
“Sophie’s side effects were sleepiness that completely went away as she acclimated to the oils,” said Tracy. “Now, her only side effect is hunger, which is amazing since the chemo can affect her appetite.”
Despite four years of chemo, and recurrences, doctors still continue to see shrinkage in the tumor.
Such reduction has allowed Sophie to keep her sight. “Doctors said Sophie would have partial, if not complete blindness, with zero chance of saving her sight,” Tracy explained. “Due to the shrinkage that has been seen from the use of cannabis oil, Sophie’s vision was saved.” Additionally, her most recent scan showed that blood flow to the tumor had been completely shut off.
These are just some of the miracles Sophie, now five, has experienced so far.
Such chill-inducing moments come often, said Tracy. So, in 2014 the Ryan’s launched CannaKids.
“We started it because we had seen the power of the plant in [healing] our daughter,” said Tracy. “We knew we had this incredible secret; we didn’t want to keep it to ourselves.”
“We wanted other families to have the same shot [at a] more successful treatment plan,” said Tracy. Their daughter has a story to tell, and they had the tools to help spread her message.
“We were called to cannabis,” she said.
They slowly started to shut down their existing media business, and moved all of their staff to their new company, CannaKids.
The multifaceted organization supplies concentrated cannabis oils. One of which is the company’s signature “Honey Gold.”
A team of PhD scientists that specialize in organic chemistry develops all of the company’s products. All concentrates are lab tested by CW Analytics to ensure oils are free from contaminants, like mold or pesticides.
Tracy said that the company uses the same strains – which they source from Northern California growers — time and time again to ensure consistency.
CannaKids oils are made using a supercritical CO2 extraction process, which strips plant matter, like terpenes and chlorophyll — and leaves purified, raw cannabinoids. After a double distillation process, terpenes are later infused to create the tasteful concentrates.
The process produces sustainable medicine, said Tracy. It also helps improve the flavor of oils – important when dealing with children, she noted.
Additionally to creating pure, high-quality medicine, the company is committed to providing access. So far, CannaKids has donated medicine, and tens of thousands of dollars to families that qualify for assistance.
“We refuse to let those children die or get sicker because their parents are struggling,” or can’t afford medicine, she said.
The company has also built partnerships, and puts on various fundraisers throughout the year, such as the “Rally for Kids with Cancer,” on February 23-24, 2018 in Los Angeles.
Aside from being a “momologist”, and her position as CEO of CannaKids, Tracy operates SavingSophie.org, a nonprofit dedicated to raising funds and research for children with cancer, epilepsy, and autism.
CannaKids has worked with more than 1,500 patients and counting. Despite the company’s name, people of all ages and ailments use their products. Children and adults with various forms and stages of cancer, and conditions ranging from Crohn’s disease, autism, anxiety, etc, find relief from their products.
Being Candid About Cannabis:
Many parents still face scrutiny and even prosecution when administering their children medical cannabis.
Tracy said one of the company’s patients recently experienced this firsthand. The patient’s parents faced risk of prosecution when school officials reported them to Child Protective Services (CPS). The child was temporarily taken from the family’s home as a result.
So, CannaKids jumped in, and put the parent in touch with a world renowned pediatrician and attorney. With their help, the experts were able to educate the courtroom about cannabis — and the parents and child were reunited — however, they continue to be monitored.
Tracy explained a lot of professionals — CPS agents, judges, etc — are just not educated on the endocannabinoid system. In the case above, informing the courtroom about the medicinal benefits of cannabis is what made the difference.
“This is only one case, and the only time it happened [to a CannaKids’ member],” said Tracy. It happened in California, which goes to show you that even today, even in the current climate where recreational cannabis is legal statewide — “we’re not out of the woods yet. We cannot stop advocating and educating.”
Though Tracy has become a globally renowned advocate for the use and research of cannabis-derived treatments — she said she felt fear of going public at first. She never expected the support she’s received, and returned, since.
“If you’d told me I was going to be here three years ago today – I would’ve thought you were crazy. I’ve always been a big dreamer, and an out of the box thinker,” Tracy added, “I had no idea we’d touch so many with our passion, with our mission.”
An International Partnership:
CannaKids is so much more than a supplier of high-quality medicine. It’s an avenue for hope, an internationally-backed advocate for parents, and a force for research driven medicine.
This year, the company joined forces with CURE Pharmaceuticals, a leading disruptive drug delivery technology, and pharmaceutical cannabinoid molecule development business.
The companies are collaborating to research, develop and deliver the most efficient applications of cannabinoids to the market via CURE’s innovative CureFilm™(which includes patches and oral thin films). According to the company’s website, the film’s benefits include: rapid delivery for symptom relief, improved palatability, precise dosages, and easy transport/storage.
Together, CURE and CannaKids have also built a partnership with the Technion Research and Development Foundation, a subsidiary of Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. The four year joint venture is currently conducting research, and clinical trials to find which specific strains and cannabinoid compounds are effective in the treatment of various types of cancers.
“This is incredible because this alliance means that we are going to have access to formulas that have gone through the process [the same process as every other pharmaceutical],” Tracy explained.
This research, she added, is needed in order to develop a.) a trusted, tested medicine, b.) accurate doses that can be replicated, and c.) have medication that will eventually be covered by insurance. “Medicine is so expensive. Children have extremely high medical bills. Cancer is quite pricey,” Tracy said. You can’t write cannabis off [on taxes], and no insurance covers it.
CannaKids and their partners understand how to make this happen, and together, they’ve opened up a whole new world of medical potential.
To learn more about Tracy Ryan’s nonprofit, outreach and clinical trials, or to donate, visit SavingSophie.org
For more information about the Rally for Kids with Cancer, visit RallyforKids.com/Los-Angeles
To learn more about CannaKids and its breakthrough products and partnerships, visit CannaKids.org.