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Florida's Medical Marijuana Fails Those In Need

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- A new bill allowing medical marijuana in Florida appears to be making its way through the legislature.

The bill passed a crucial vote this week but it may be too little to late, particularly for those who say they need it most.

Gabriel Cabrera sits on the couch holding his one year old son. "I always considered myself a hard worker. I've never worked for something so hard my entire life. To see my son smile," he says, fighting back tears.

Cabrera and his wife Dianely just celebrated their son's birthday. While he's officially one year old, you might as well consider him to be a newborn. "He hasn't been able to meet any of his milestones. Something as simple as lifting his head, he can't do. He hasn't been able to sit up," Dianely explains.

Max was born with infantile spasms. It means he has seizures between 30 to 70 times a day.

"It's a clean slate. It's basically a mini-tornado in his brain," Gabriel says. It's like hitting the reset button. Any advancements Max has made are wiped clean.

Roughly one in a few thousand newborns are diagnosed with what Max has every year.

"There is no cure out there," Dianely confirms. Not that the Cabrera's haven't tried to find one. "It's almost like he's a test dummy. Trying all these really hardcore medications with terrible side effects," mom says.

Doctors have told the family they are running out of options. In fact, they believe there is just one option left, something called Charlotte's Web.

From what they've learned from other families in the same predicament, it works.

"It helped tremendously. It's helped to wean their child off of these really hard anti-seizure medications and live a better quality of life. That's what we want for our son. A better quality of life," Dianely says.

Naturally, you're wondering right now, what are they waiting for?

Dad shrugs his shoulders, "Well it's not legal here."

Charlotte's Web is hemp oil. Or you may know it as medical marijuana. The oil carries virtually none of the components that get you high.

And its creators, the Stanley brothers in Colorado, claim it has saved a number of lives, including who it's named after, Charlotte Figi.

"I'm not saying this is going to be the cure all. I'm just saying it's an option. And we should be allowed the option, especially if it's helping other children," Dianely says.

Florida passed a law last year allowing Charlotte's Web to be produced and sold in Florida.

It's caught up in regulation, though. The details of who can grow it, how it's farmed, how it's stored and how it's distributed have slowed the process down. Documents obtained by CBS show it could be the summer of 2016 or even longer before Max would be able to get the oil legally.

It's time the Cabrera's don't have.

"He's slipping away. And as my wife said, because of a political mess that's going on some play unbeknownst to us, he's caught in the crossfire," Max's father says.

Twenty-three states have legalized hemp oil. Technically, the Cabrera's could take a flight and smuggle it home. Gabriel has been tempted.

"And that's the biggest fear. God forbid we run the chance just to do something for our son and then because of an anonymous tip or something like that, they take him away. We are not meth dealers. We are not criminals. We are just trying to help him out," Gabriel said.

The Cabrera's believe the quick fix is for Florida to allow the shipping of oil. There are plenty of companies already offering online.

"Our goal is not to take on the state. We just want to save our son. We just want the potential to save him," Dianely said.

CBS4's David Sutta tried asking Senator Eleanor Sobel, co-sponsor of Florida's medical marijuana bill about that possibility, but she didn't respond to any of our inquiries.

We should note the Cabrera's believe Charlotte's Web may help save baby Max. Doctors are hopeful, too, but opponents argue it's a false hope.

Either way baby Max waits to find out.

If you would like to have Max, his family has set up a Go Fund Me page.


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