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Epilepsy Patients Flock To Colorado After Medical Pot Gives Them Hope

DENVER (CBS4) - There's a new strain of marijuana that has desperate parents full of hope. It won't get people high but they believe it provides relief for children suffering from seizures.

It's about a five-step process to go from the plant to a thick, black liquid. It looks a bit like molasses but to a growing number of children it's simply good medicine.

Tucked back in the hills of Teller County is a set of greenhouses.

"Sometimes it's referred to as the Stanley Brothers Garden of Eden," Josh Stanley said.

It's where six brothers grow medical marijuana and they have a strain that has become their calling.

"Amazing, miraculous, unbelievable; all of these words come to mind," Stanley said.

They originally named it "Hippie's Disappointment" because it was so low in THC it couldn't get people high. It turns out that it was a mother's hope.

"This is a miracle," Paige Figi said.

Josh Stanley
Josh Stanley (credit: CBS)

Figi's daughter Charlotte was born with a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome. With 300 seizures a week, she couldn't walk, talk or eat, and no medications worked.

"I was wishing for no more suffering because we had nothing else to try," Figi said.

Then Figi learned about the type of pot that's low in THC but high in cannabidiol (CBD).

"Cannabidiol is known to treat seizures," Figi said.

She began giving Charlotte cannabis oil potent with CBD and her seizures nearly stopped.

"The first thing we saw was that eye contact. She looked at me in the eye and she was there again, and then she started talking, and then she started walking," Paige said.

The Stanley brothers began making oil from the plant they renamed "Charlotte's Web." When word spread desperate families flocked to Colorado, including the Koozers from Tennessee. Two-year-old Piper Koozer has been on cannabis oil for two weeks.

"If we didn't try it I think we would probably be saying, 'What if?' for the rest of our lives," Piper's mother Annie Koozer said.

Marisa Kiser brought Ezra to Colorado from South Carolina.

"We're down to maybe two seizures a day that last maybe 30 seconds," Kiser said.

There is now a growing community of 93 families with epileptic children using marijuana daily. Hundreds are on a waiting list and thousands are calling.

Cannabidiol (CBD)
cannabidiol (CBD) (credit: CBS)

"We need to be able to grow this like cornfields to be able to take care of all of the children," Josh Stanley said.

"It's a little early to say … as a physician and as a scientist, when I hear the parents talk about it, I am so curious," Dr. Ed Maa said.

Maa is a neurologist who specializes in epilepsy and a board member of the Colorado Epilepsy Foundation.

"This is not going away. Colorado has for better or worse positioned itself as ground zero for this phenomenon," Maa said. "I think it needs to be studied vigorously and very quickly."

But parents see all the proof they need in their children's improvement. They are marijuana refugees convinced they've found their miracle.

The Stanley brothers have set up a foundation called "Realm of Caring" to help patients who can't afford the treatment. Maa is hoping to launch a clinical trial to study the pot and its potential.

LINK: Colorado Epilepsy Foundation | Realm of Caring

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