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Desperate Southwest Florida mom turns to medical marijuana

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Desperate Southwest Florida mom turns to medical marijuana

By Sara Belsole. CREATED Feb 26, 2014 - UPDATED: Feb 26, 2014

FORT MYERS, Fla. - When doctors told a Southwest Florida mom there was nothing else they could do for her child battling cancer, she decided to go to the extreme.

She became a criminal. 

"Everything else had failed," the mom said, who asked her identity and any details surrounding her child be hidden because what she's doing is illegal.

After her child hit rock bottom, she decided to try medical marijuana. She gives her child a mix of cannabis oil and cannabidiol, also known as CBD. 

"It's a risk I take, I know that, but it's a risk I am willing to take because no mother wants to bury their child," she said.

Hours after giving the child both oils, she says she saw improvement in her child's quality of life.

"The mom in you is overjoyed, elated, just there's my baby. That's my baby. I've been waiting 2 years to see that and you just cry," she said.

Now weeks into the illegal treatment, her child is walking, drawing and cracking jokes. While some family members and friends don't support the mom's illegal actions, she says she doesn't care.

"Because until you're sitting there and telling your son or your daughter that the end is coming and they fold their hand in their face and beg you to help them and tell you that they don't want to die, that they're afraid to die, I don't want to hear what you have to say," she said. 

Fox 4 reached out to hospitals across Florida to get a cancer specialist's take on medical marijuana. Most doctors said there isn't enough research on the drug to comment. A pediatric oncologist in Tampa says his experience with medial marijuana is very limited, but from what he has seen, "medically it did not help any patient and the effects were disappointing."

While one Florida mom is now a criminal, another has become a refugee.

Moriah Barnhart moved to Colorado so she could give medical marijuana legally to her three-year-old daughter Dahlia, who has brain cancer.

"It's so tremendously unfair for Dahlia at three years old that she doesn't have the comfort and support of all of our family and friends back home during this horrible time of her life," Barnhart said.

But the pain of being away from home is outweighed by the progress Dahlia has made. Her mom says she is a happier and healthier little girl.

"If she had hair you wouldn't know she was sick," Barnhart said.

Now Dahlia has a chance to come home and continue the controversial treatment. Medical marijuana will be on the ballot in Florida in November. But while some lawmakers support legalization, Governor Rick Scott says he's against it.

"I promise you the day you find yourself in my shoes, you would absolutely change your mind about legalizing marijuana for medical purposes," Barnhart said.

Both moms are hoping a bill legalizing medical marijuana in Florida will be passed well before November.

"For people like us, and Dahlia, we don't have a year and a half to wait for legalization, we need it today," Barnhart said.

Florida is one of nine states considering legalizing medical marijuana this year. Twenty states, plus Washington D.C. already allow it.

 

Sara Belsole

Sara Belsole

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Sara Belsole is a video journalist for FOX 4