A Sioux Falls woman wants the debate over medical marijuana placed on the fast-track in South Dakota. Tricia Parker's 18-year-old son Michael suffers from seizures. The Parkers, like other families facing serious medical problems, see promise in an oil extracted from marijuana nicknamed Charlotte's Web. The Parkers think legalizing Charlotte's Web is deserving of a special session in the legislature.
Seizures are part of Michael Parker's daily struggle with epilepsy.
"My heart stops every time. I can hardly breathe. I just watch him and wait and hope and hope that it stops," Michael's mother Tricia Parker said.
Michael suffered two seizures in the morning and was unable to sit down with his mother for this interview.
"Every seizure puts him at risk of dying and if there's even a glimmer of hope, I think why not take it," Tricia Parker said.
The Parkers see that glimmer of hope in Charlotte's Web, the medical marijuana extract that patients credit with stopping their seizures.
"It's already shown in many families in Colorado that it works and they're having an easier life, those children are having quality of life," Parker said.
Parker says because her son runs the risk of dying with each seizure, medical marijuana can't wait for the 2015 legislative session. She wants lawmakers to meet in special session, this year.
"This is the easiest thing they could do, I don't care if they have to do it by phone, they can do it any way they have to do it," Parker said.
The Parkers say if the legislature doesn't take up the issue this year, they'll leave South Dakota and move to a state where medical marijuana is allowed.
"We've looked at Colorado because that's close for my family to be able to travel and still be able to see us, but you know, as we are all aware, if we go to Colorado and South Dakota doesn't pass it, we're not welcome back here again," Parker said.
Parker thinks public opinion in South Dakota is shifting in her favor. But she admits to being a reluctant advocate for medical marijuana.
"I don't know where to go next. I'm just a working mother taking care of a disabled child," Parker said.
Tricia Parker acknowledges that there are no scientific studies that point to the success of Charlotte's Web in treating patients. She says that's because scientific research is difficult to do with marijuana illegal in so many states.
Michael Parker's epilepsy has forced him to drop out of Roosevelt High School.
Some of the video in this story came from South Dakotans Against Prohibition. Visit their Facebook page for more information.