A group of Florida mothers is rallying to legalize marijuana -- for their kids.
They call themselves the CannaMoms, and they share their experiences at conventions and in front of legislative committees. They want to spread the word that Charlotte’s Web is limited in what it can do.
Jacel Delgadillo witnesses her 3-year-old son, Bruno, sometimes having up to 300 seizures a day. He has Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy.
“It’s 24 hours," she says. "I put him to sleep next to me. I have to hold his hand or his leg because he’s constantly seizing.”
He requires constant care from Delgadillo, a former teacher and single mom from Miami. She says doctors have tried everything. Last year they decided to try potassium bromide, a veterinary drug.
She can’t know its true effects because Bruno doesn’t speak or communicate, and there’s not much she can read about it either.
“Honestly, I am not really quite sure for the side effects, because when I look it up I have to read on the point of view of from an animal," she says.
The CannaMoms want more medical marijuana options in Florida.
“Even for epileptic patients, most of them have had to add either THCA or THC into their child’s regimen," says Moriah Barnhart, who gives her 3-year-old daughter Dahlia cannabis for aggressive brain cancer.
After Dahlia’s diagnosis in December, Barnhart moved from Tampa to Colorado because Dahlia could get injections of cannabis oil there.
“She almost immediately was no longer at risk for having to have a feeding tube put in," Barnhart says, "she got her appetite back in fact started gaining weight while on chemotherapy for brain cancer, which is pretty much unheard of, especially in pediatric patients."
Dahlia’s tumor is shrinking, and Barnhart attributes that to the cannabis.
They came back to Tampa in June after lawyers said Barnhart could continue her daughter’s treatment under Florida’s medical necessity defense.
She wants to be here to fight for Amendment 2.
“She gets up every morning happy to be alive," she says, "and to see her have all of that ripped from her and to be able to give it back to her means more to me as a mother than anything I’ll ever witness with my own eyes for the rest of my life.”
CannaMom Renee Petro’s 12-year-old son Branden has a seizure disorder known as F.I.R.E.S. She wants to get him off the medications he’s been on for the last four years because she says they cause hallucinations and depression.
“He actually asks to commit suicide,” she says.
She’s been giving him cannabis oil because she heard it can help wean him off the prescription drugs. It caused the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Child Protective unit to visit her home, she says.
“But I let them in, because I’m not hiding anything,” she says.
They came in, asked some questions, and left. Petro hired a lawyer and says she hasn’t been contacted since.
Barnhart says that's the kind of incident that scares those who could benefit from medical marijuana, and one reason they must share their stories.
“Everyone would be as compassionate as us if they really, really understood," she says, "and that’s our job."
The CannaMoms will continue their fight for medical marijuana between now and November.