When Rylie Maedler was 7 years old, she was diagnosed with a rare condition that caused benign tumors to grow in her jaw and other bones in her face. Surgery removed some of the masses, but instead of following up with chemotherapy or powerful medication—both of which came with potentially risky long-term side effects—her parents chose an alternative treatment: cannabis. With a doctor’s guidance, Rylie started taking an oil containing CBD, a chemical found in cannabis, and THCA, which is similar to THC but does not cause a high. One problem: At the time, medical cannabis was legal only for adults in Delaware, where Rylie lives. Still, her parents were willing to do anything to help ease her suffering and manage her pain.
After Rylie got better, she fought to help get a Delaware law passed to make medical cannabis legal for kids. (“Rylie’s Law” went into effect in 2015.) Since then, the eighth- grader, now 14 and in remission, has started her own foundation, has launched a CBD oil business, and travels the world speaking about her experience in hopes that she can clear up some misperceptions about cannabis.
Rylie says: “I started taking cannabis oil because I was having seizures, bad cramps, no appetite, and hallucinations. My mom gave me a few drops each day, and it helped ease my pain.