Families with sick kids move to Colo. for Rx pot

DENVER (KSDK) - Denver, Colorado is called the mile high city, but for Frank and Jaime Bruno it's 850 miles from home.

"I grew up in St. Louis," Jaime told us.

The Brunos moved to Colorado last October, they say to save their daughter's life. Grace was diagnosed with a form of epilepsy when she was just 5-months-old. She's been suffering through as many as three hundred seizures a day.

"It's heartbreaking," Jaime said. "There's nothing worse than seeing your perfect little baby have seizures."

Every seizure caused trauma to her brain and stunted her development. A hospital room became as familiar as the family living room.

"Well from there it was just a series of different medications that we tried," explained Frank Bruno. "Nothing worked."

Then, after doing months of research the Bruno family learned about a strain of marijuana that has been helping other kids with intractable seizures. It's called Charlotte's Web, and it has very high levels of cannabidoil or CBD and very low levels of THC, the psycho-active ingredient found in recreational marijuana.

Chemist Bryson Rast says a child cannot get high on the oil.

"No, you'd have to take an extraordinary dose to feel much in the way of psychotropic effect," he said.

Jesse Stanley and his brothers created Charlotte's Web on their medical marijuana farm in Colorado Springs, and they're about to open a new lab in Boulder. Their Realm of Caring non-profit foundation provides cannabis oil to children but by law, to get it you have to be a resident of Colorado.

"I was kind of like, that's pretty extreme," said Genny Jessee. "I don't want to leave my family and support system."

St. Louisans Matt and Genny Jessee felt they were out of options for their 2-year-old daughter June. So they too decided to move to Colorado after doctors wanted to re-try one of the 14 medications they had already prescribed.

"We just thought instead of trying something that we tried and failed, we're going to try something new," said Jessee.

Over the last 16 months more than 200 families have moved to Colorado looking for the hope they haven't been able to find anywhere else.

As an oil extract, each dose comes in liquid form, which Grace swallows three times a day. The Brunos now call it a marijuana miracle.

"We haven't seen a seizure in 24 days," said Jaime Bruno. "It's the longest we've ever gone. We've never even gone one day."

As for June, the Jessees assert she's gone 40 to 50 seizures a day to just five, and they've only been on the oil for two months.

"I want people to know that this has changed June's life," Matt Jessee told us.

Of course not every family has the ability to move halfway across the country and for those who do there is no going back. Not for Thanksgiving or even Christmas.

"We can't cross state lines with her medication or we're considered criminals," he said.

But for right now, the journey for these families is not about what they've lost but what they've found. Hundreds of miles from St. Louis, home is quite simply hope.

"When you see your child in pain," said Jaime. "You'd do anything to help them."

Now that CBD oil is legal in Missouri, you would think that those families can return home for the holidays but by federal law marijuana is still a schedule one drug, the same as heroin and transporting the medicine across state lines is still a question.

It will be at least a year before the infrastructure is in place to produce the oil in Missouri.

In Illinois, similar CBD oil legislation is just waiting for Gov. Quinn's signature.

So what do doctors say about this treatment and its long term effects? That part of the story Tuesday at 10 p.m.


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