Canyon family one of thousands relocating for marijuana treatment

Canyon family one of thousands relocating for marijuana treatment

AMARILLO, TX- For the Harmons, their country Canyon farm-house has always been home.

Memories of past Christmases, birthdays, and first's for their three children are all here. But not all the memories are warm ones.

Eight-year-old Jillian Harmon was just an infant when she had her first seizure.

"When she was an infant she was having 40 to 50 a day," Jillian's mother Becca said.

Now Jillian averages one seizure a day after getting off all pharmaceutical drugs and turning to alternative treatments of various vitamins, minerals, and oxygen.

Jillian has severe epilepsy, cerebral palsy, hip displasia and developmental delays.

Becca says her daughter will never be "normal," but hope has the Harmons packing their life in boxes and heading to the mountains.

"It's a big move, it's hard to move away from family and friends, and his career, and it's really hard, but she's worth it," Becca said.

Jillian will soon start on a treatment made from marijuana, grown at a remote, high security facility in the foothills of Colorado Springs.

"Thinking that Jilly could be seizure free, maybe someday be able to communicate somehow or feed herself, little things like that," Becca said.

The treatment is called "Charlotte's Web," named after now 7-year-old Charlotte Figi, who was the first patient to try it two years ago.

Charlotte has Dravet Syndrome.

"She had been on every drug by two, by two years old, and so when she was five, we really lost all control. She's not a surgical candidate. We tried diets, we tried everything, and her control at five years old was 50 seizures a day, 50 grand mal seizures a day, 1,200 a month," Charlotte's mother Paige Figi said.

Paige says doctors were recommending a veterinary injection used on epileptic dogs, when she made the controversial decision to give medical marijuana a try.

"I just did research. I did a ton of research. All night and day I did research and I learned that there is actually a lot of information on cannabidiol as medical treatment," Paige said.

That's where Joel Stanley comes in. He and his brothers bred a plant with high levels of cannabidiol, or CBD, and extremely low levels of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana.

"I'm not a drug deal, I'm not a pot dealer, I grow plants for sick people," Stanley said.

The Stanley brothers worked to turn the high CBD plant into an oil, and the first time Charlotte had it...

"Instantly a week without a seizure that first week," Paige said. "We've had two years to see her personality again, to hear her voice, to see Charlotte again when we really thought she was going to leave this world. I really was actually praying for her to die in her sleep because it was so horrible what she was going through. She was just suffering all day and all night and I was keeping her body alive. That's how it felt."

Charlotte is not cured. She still has one or two seizures a month, but she now has a quality of life that Becca hopes Jillian can have as well.

"We have a lot of hope and it's worth, I mean she's worth fighting for," Becca said. "We're excited to see what's going to happen."

The treatment is only available in Colorado, for Colorado residents. That's why the Harmons, and hundreds of other families, are migrating for the plant many are calling a miracle.

The Afeef family moved from San Antonio four months ago for their 10-year-old son Ibraham.

"He was fine up until the age of five. He was doing all the things that normal children do," Ibraham's father Fahad said.

Ibraham has severe epilepsy and another grim diagnosis, a neurodegenitive disorder called baton's disease.

"We have no other option and you know, if that makes it better for him then you know we would have travelled further, but luctraveledound it here in Colorado," Fahad said.

The Afeefs say they are seeing improvement in Ibraham on the small dosage he's on.

"He's there and we're just waiting for him to come out of the spell," Fahad said.

Of the some 300 children on Charlotte's Web, 80 percent are now 50 to 100 percent seizure free.

CBD's are said to be the reason why.

"They have a profound ability to act like a surge protector so to speak in people that have movement disorders," said retired Amarillo doctor Roby Mitchell.

But the Stanley brothers say more research is needed.

"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.

It's now become the mission of many to get the ball rolling on research, and get more states to legalize of if not marijuana in general, just this plant that's changing so many lives.

"To us it seems like an actual miracle," Fahad said.

"This will just be the next seizure treatment. This has no potential for abuse. These kids aren't smoking this. These kids are end of life in a lot of these situations, and this is a compassionate issue," Paige said.

"To me it's really sad that families have to face that just to get this plant that will do nothing but good for their kids," Becca said.

Paige and Becca are both part of a non-profit, Realm of Caring, that helps families get Charlotte's Web for an affordable price.