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Marijuana plants are seen in an indoor cultivation in Montevideo December 6, 2013. REUTERS/Andres Stapff Marijuana plants are seen in an indoor cultivation in Montevideo December 6, 2013. REUTERS/Andres Stapff  

Colorado becoming a magnet for pediatric marijuana patients

Colorado has become a magnet for pediatric marijuana patients.

The number of pediatric medical marijuana patients in the state has skyrocketed over the last year, from 37 in 2012 to 128 current patients. Another 171 are on a waiting list, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported.

The increase is largely attributed to a new strain of medical marijuana called Charlotte’s Web, which is said to almost completely eliminate severe seizures in children with epilepsy. Discovery of the strain, which is low in psychoactive THC and administered as an oil, led to a booming migration by families with epileptic children to Colorado Springs, where the strain was developed.

“The migrants have formed a tight community bound by their children’s common struggle,” according to the Gazette, which estimates that as many as 100 new families have relocated there in recent months. “They share meals and volunteer to baby sit, swap news of victories and setbacks, each uncertain how the oil will affect their children.”

The families come from across the country, the paper reported, leaving behind jobs, homes and relatives in search of a cure. In many cases, the relocation seems to have been worth the sacrifice.

“Her life was a storm,” Butch Swann said of his 14-year-old daughter Allie, who suffered from as many as 10 debilitating seizures per day. “If we had stayed in Alabama, I don’t think she would have made it.”

Allie’s seizures have virtually stopped since she began treatment with Charlotte’s Web, which is named after another patient. Her coordination improved and she began speaking more, a skill that had been stunted by the nonstop seizures, according to the Gazette.

Although Colorado has the most robust medical marijuana industry in the country, it has been overshadowed in recent months by its preparations to allow recreational pot to be sold to anyone 21 or older, beginning on Jan. 1.

Despite that obtaining legal marijuana will be easier than ever at the start of the new year, the number of patients on the medical marijuana registry — who must obtain a doctor’s recommendation and then apply with the state health department — is higher than at this point last year.

More than 112,000 patients are enrolled in the program as of Oct. 31, according to the most recent state statistics, compared to 108,000 in December 2012, just a month after voters approved Amendment 64, which legalized pot for recreational purposes.

Gov. John Hickenlooper recently requestedthat $7 million be made available from the Medical Marijuana Program Cash Fund for research grants into how pot can be beneficial to people who suffer a wide variety of aliments, from PTSD to seizures.

Research into marijuana’s potential benefits has been hampered for years by its classification as a dangerous controlled substance under federal drug laws.

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