|By Dave Philipps, The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Halabi's daughter, Mia, has severe epilepsy. Treatment by some of the country's best neurologists and with the most powerful drugs has done little. This year, doctors told him to prepare for her death.
"No matter what we did, nothing helped. She just got worse until she was almost a vegetable," he said. "She had no chance at life."
Then in July, he and his wife, Miriam, saw an online video of a
The Halabis live in
"As soon as we saw it, we knew we had to go," he said.
Families of children with severe epilepsy are moving to
In the meantime, they are leaving big cities and quiet farmland, blue states and the Bible Belt, and heading to the Rockies. They are rich and poor, Muslims like the Halabis and conservative Christians like their new next-door neighbors, who just moved with their epileptic daughter from
They call themselves marijuana refugees.
"These families are really desperate," said Dr.
At least 18 families have moved in the last few months. An additional 14 will arrive in the next few weeks as a new batch of the oil becomes available.
The number of children younger than 14 in
Since there are hundreds of thousands of people nationwide whose epilepsy is not controlled by traditional drugs, Gedde expects a boom.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg," she said. "People will continue to come because it works. Patients are seeing between 50 and 90 percent reduction in seizures with no side effects. That's amazing."
No side effects would be a godsend to Halabi. His daughter has tried prescriptions that have eased her seizures, but also made her go into a rage, made her hallucinate, made her nearly comatose and damaged her organs. It is difficult to know which problems are caused by her disorder and which are caused by the drugs, he said.
But moving has its perils. The night before the flight, Mia was in the hospital with kidney stones caused by her medical treatment. Her father worried things would not go well on the airplane. What if the pressure change caused a seizure? Mia is fragile. He hoped she would make it.
He also worries about other impacts of the move.