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SPECIAL REPORT: Moving for Marijuana
COLUMBUS (Chris Vanocur/Ken Hines) -- Supporters and opponents of medical marijuana are waging battle in Ohio, as legalization efforts meant for the statehouse and the ballot box are debated across the state.
For some Ohio families with a personal stake in the results of that debate, however, waiting out the lengthy process of approving or rejecting medical marijuana legalization is a luxury they feel they can not afford.
That desperation has led some Buckeye State parents with seriously ill children to pack up their families and move to Colorado, hoping a drug that can lead to arrest in one state might prove to be a saving grace in another.
Its pretty easy to fall in love with 7-year-old Hunter Shaffer. Hes bright, energetic, and determined to hug everyone in his path. But Hunter also suffers from a life threatening form of epilepsy.
"He's so happy, and I see that deteriorating now, and I want him to be happy," Hunter's mother, Diana, said. "I want him to have a better quality of life."
Having exhausted all other medical options amid days and nights filled with uncontrollable seizures, the Shaffers made the difficult decision to move to Colorado, where medical (and recreational) marijuana is legal.
Hunters dad, a big Buckeye fan, explains their risky move as, "4th and goal."
And the Shaffers arent alone.
Amy and James Houks' son, Cameron, also has epilepsy, and suffers 150 seizures a day. For the Houks, leaving their Ohio roots wasnt easy, but that pain pales in comparison with the physical and emotional toll brought about by Cameron's illness.
The desire to spare their children that pain is what has led several families like the Shaffers and the Houks to seek out a special type of marijuana-based medicine manufactured by a group of brothers in the mountains of Colorado.
Field of Dreams
That medicine is called Charlottes Web. Its hard to get -- and to get to.
ABC 6/FOX 28 is not allowed to divulge the exact location where Charlottes web is made, but the trip there involves a long mountain drive to a remote marijuana mecca.
Its what medical marijuana advocates might call a field of dreams -- and it might be the last best hope for some very sick children.
Charlottes Web comes from a unique marijuana plant that doesnt get kids high, but can
stop or greatly reduce seizures.
Its grown by six brothers who have now welcomed a handful of Ohio families into their own.
"To be the person that those people come to, it's an honor. It's an absolute honor," one of the brothers, Jordan Stanley, said.
Signs of hope
Not long after beginning use of Charlotte's Web, Hunter's parents have seen indications that the medicine is working, including improved memory and even dancing -- something he hadn't done for months.
Before traveling to Colorado, Ohios marijuana refugees were suspicious of the drug, but signs of hope witnessed first-hand have changed their minds in dramatic ways.
I think God put things on this Earth for a reason," Diana Schaffer said. "I may not know all the reasons why certain things are here on Earth, but it's here for a reason, and I don't think it's just for recreational use. I think it's here to help us."