Minnesota is about to enter the medical marijuana debate.
Lawmakers will consider two bills legalizing it during the legislative session this spring. If it passes, Minnesota will join more than twenty states where medical marijuana is legal, or possession of small amounts for medical treatment is decriminalized.
But modern medical marijuana may not be what you think it is. A new kind of medical marijuana called ‘Charlotte's Web’ was developed by brothers from Colorado as a medication for children to stop seizures. Now families are moving to the state just to have access to the drug.
The parents of four-year-old Luella Johnson of Luverne, Minnesota hope lawmakers pass the legislation in Minnesota so they can have access to ‘Charlotte’s Web.’ Luella has a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome.
"It's characterized by seizures that are resistant to conventional medication," Luella's father Jim Johnson said.
Seizures are a common occurrence for Luella and the Johnson's have tried several medications to reduce the episodes. 'Charlotte's Web,' which is a liquid form of medical marijuana, was named after Charlotte Figi who also suffered from seizures because of Dravet syndrome.
"She was having 300 seizures a week and she was a lot worse than Luella was but they tried that and she went from 300 seizures a week down to about one a week now," Johnson said.
'Charlotte's Web' was developed by the Stanley brothers in Colorado.
"I'm not a drug deal, I'm not a pot dealer, I grow plants for sick people," Joel Stanley said in an interview with CBS News.
The hemp oil is high in the non-psychoactive cannabidiol - or CBD - and low in the THC component of marijuana that gets users high. It’s given to children through a medicine dropper and parents have been moving their epileptic children to Colorado just to try it.
"So our goal is to take the best of modern medicine and what it has to offer so far, and invite modern science and modern medicine to come alongside us and help us to understand why we're seeing such excellent results with medical cannabis for different disease states," Stanley said.
You have to be a resident of Colorado to get a prescription for the liquid. That's why the Johnson's don't have access to it for Luella. It's also why they are hoping Minnesota lawmakers will legalize medical marijuana this spring.
"I have friends here in town who were very much against it until they started researching and reading more about it and now they've sent letters to Governor Dayton on Luella's behalf requesting him to support this," Luella’s mother Heather Johnson said.
The main opposition to medical marijuana has come from law enforcement. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton wants both sides to work on a compromise.
Hear from the Pipestone County Sheriff about medical marijuana and more of Luella's story coming up in the Eye on KELOLAND tonight at ten.