Family of 4-Year-Old With Epilepsy Fights for Medical Marijuana - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
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Family of 4-Year-Old With Epilepsy Fights for Medical Marijuana

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    Family Fights For Medical Marijuana

    A 4-year-old Colorado girl becomes the face of medical marijuana debate in Ohio. (Published Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015)

    Eight months ago, 4-year-old Addyson Benton suffered more than 100 seizures a day. Now, Addyson's parents can count her seizures on one hand and say their daughter is "a kid again."

    They attribute Addyson's progress to medical marijuana, administered through THC patches and oil. The family moved from their hometown near Cincinnati, Ohio, to suburban Colorado, where medical marijuana is legal.

    Now they want to return home, and they will – if Tuesday's election clears the way for medical marijuana in Ohio. Voters will take up Issue 3, a constitutional amendment that would allow for an unlimited number of medical marijuana dispensaries, along with some 1,150 marijuana retail stores.

    Addyson and her parents are among the measure's biggest supporters and have starred in commercials for advocacy group ResponsibleOhio.

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    "I feel like we're called to do this, like this is what we're meant to do," Addyson's mom, Heather Benton, told NBC affiliate WCMH.

    Benton said there's "no question at all" medical marijuana keeps her daughter's epilepsy in check. Before starting treatment, Addyson was "lethargic and withdrawn," according to Benton.

    "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 30 minutes," Benton told WCMH.

    "At her worst, (Addyson) was having over 100 visible seizures in a day," she added.

    The child's demeanor has clearly shifted. An interview with WCMH shows Addyson kissing and playfully pushing reporter Duane Pohlman before bounding toward the camera for a close-up.

    "She's a completely different child," Addyson's father, Adam Benton, told WCMH.

    Issue 3 would allow patients with chronic conditions to obtain medical marijuana with a doctor's certification. Those younger than 18 would need parental permission.

    The proposal would also allow for more than 1,150 marijuana retail locations, but would cap the number of stores statewide at 1 for every 10,000 residents.

    Each location would be licensed at an annual cost of $10,000 and situated more than 1,000 feet away from houses of worship, public libraries, state-licensed day cares, public and charter schools and public playgrounds.

    If passed, Ohio will become the fifth state to legalize recreational marijuana – and Addyson and her family will get to go home.