While the Ohio Medical Association and Ohio Children’s Hospital Association both stand against Issue 3, the face of the proposed legislation has been a young girl and her family who moved from Ohio to Colorado to legally get medical marijuana. NBC4’s Duane Pohlman traveled to Colorado to find the facts behind “Addyson’s Story.”
In a rented home in an upscale, middle class neighborhood in Castle Rock, Colorado, Heather Benton makes it clear that she’s proud that she and her daughter have become the faces of medical marijuana and Issue 3.
family1“I couldn’t be happier,” Heather said, as she settled in to the couch in her family room.
ResponsibleOhio ads, featuring Heather and 4 year old Addyson Benton have been playing around the clock for weeks across Ohio, yet here in the suburb of Denver, Heather can only get a sense from family and friends back home how big her voice has become.
“We had several of our friends tells us about that the ad is playing all the time,” Heather said.
The claim in the ad is clear: Medical Marijuana, which helps stop Addyson’s seizures, isn’t available in Ohio, so the family had to move to Colorado to get it.
Now, Heather readily admits she’s on a mission about the need to reform medical marijuana laws.
“I feel like we’re called to do this, like this is what we’re meant to do,” Heather said.
Seizures and sedation
addyson2Eight months ago, Addyson Benton, who has epilepsy, was battling hundreds of seizures day and night in a suburb of Cincinnati.
“It was bad,” Heather said, adding, “She was waking up every single night at least one time a day, sometimes from naps, with clusters of seizures, which would be one visible seizure every second for thirty minutes.”
YouTube video of Addyson, posted and shared by her family reveal of lethargic child back then, suffering from the debilitating seizures and sedated by the strong prescription medications.
“It was a nightmare,” Addyson’s father Adam said.
Excited, engaged and exuberant
During the television interview at the Benton home, Addyson was constantly on the go, blowing kisses, hugging the camera and constantly interrupting the questions from NBC4’s Duane Pohlman, even pushing and jumping on him.
She was excited, engaged and exuberant.
The difference, Heather confidently notes has been the family’s decision to move to Colorado so Addison can get medical marijuana.
“I mean look at her!” Adam said, pointing to Addyson, who was jumping around the room.
“She’s a completely different child,” he exclaims.
”People actually think these children are going to be smoking marijuana,” Heather says, “No child is smoking marijuana.”
Instead, Addyson gets patches, with THC, the active drug at the center of marijuana, placed on her ankles.
Adam quietly and confidently takes the two patches, one with the active psychactive form of THC, the other with non- psychoactive THCA. He folds both in to even sections, until he finds the right dose for his daughter, then cuts.
“It’s all about dosage,” He says, as he looks down at the scissors.
Within seconds, he peels the patches and sticks them to Addyson’s ankles.
Addyson also gets a dose of THC oil once a day, rubbed on her gums.
Addyson’s doctor, Margaret Gedde, MD, PhD, is a Stanford University medical graduate and former pharmaceutical director, who now believes in marijuana as medicine, helping 2,500 patients get marijuana for one of Colorado’s eight approved ailments.
In Addyson’s case, Dr. Gedde recommends marijuana — she can’t legally prescribe marijuana, even in Colorado — for controlling Addyson’s seizures, which she said is below the level that would trigger a “high.”
“We find that the dose that controls seizures is below the level that gets the psycho-activity,” Dr. Gedde said.
And Dr. Gedde said it’s clear the marijuana treatment is working.
“It’s helped a great deal,” Dr. Gedde said.
When asked whether it works, Heather doesn’t hesitate.
“She’s gone from Hundreds of visible seizures a day to under 5,” Heather says, adding, “She’s a kid again. It’s not like she’s running and falling and seizing all the time.”
While Addyson is doing much better, the Bentons make it clear they want to come back to Ohio. But they say they can only do that if they can legally get medical marijuana.
“It definitely is frustrating thinking that there are several other families faced with this and they’re still in Ohio and they don’t have the rights to the same medication as we do,: Heather said, noting, “It’s all based upon the state we live in.”