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Medical Marijuana: Stories of Hope (Part 2)

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (CBS 2/FOX 28) - A recent survey shows 81 percent of Iowa voters support allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana for medical use. They remain hopeful as the governor decides whether he'll sign the cannabis oil bill passed by both chambers of the legislature. Proponents are also thankful that the conversation has gotten this
far in Iowa. But there's a question being asked; should Iowa be growing its own marijuana and allowing it for conditions other than epilepsy?

 CBS 2 News went to Colorado where several Iowans have moved to get cannabis oil for seizure treatment. The Selmeskis, originally from Swisher, are treating their daughter, Maggie. Rachael Selmeski pointed out the symptoms of of the seizures her two-year old endures daily.  That was one right there. You can mostly see it in her eyes mostly. Her eyes will do a little weird trajectory. And the Selmeskis understand that people who don't live this life have a hard time comprehending it.  Even last year at Christmas people were posting that their kids were getting 
them up at 4-oclock in the morning to open presents and Shawn and I were up making sure our daughter was still alive, says Rachael.

Shawn Selmeski, now a student at the Denver Seminary, says he prayed about his initial belief that marijuana was bad. The only direction that the Lord showed me was, 'you need to go to Colorado and get
your child on marijuana.' and Ill tell you what, its never been a struggle for me past that point. Its never been an issue.

These are THC plants here, so were in the middle of harvesting both CBD and THC, explains Matt Lindsey, manager of the medical marijuana growing facility where Maggie gets her medicine. CBD is the compound from a strain of marijuana called Charlotte's Web used to produce the oil for seizure treatment. The medical marijuana industry in Colorado is highly regulated, requiring a state license. And each plant
is tracked from seed. We have to get a tag on them and thats an RFID tag, Radio Frequency Identification," explains Lindsey. "So that stays with the plant all the way until its sold at the stores.
In addition, each patient gets only so much based on a doctor's recommendation. The typical patient is allotted six plants for a growing operation to grow, and doesnt mean that a patient is assigned
a specific plant, they just give the rights to the grower to grow six plants of any type for them so the State knows where that patient is connected to and how many plants that patient has, says Lindsey, who wears
a bar-coded identification badge issued by the state. Everyone who works in Colorado's medical marijuana industry must be approved by the state government.

Dr. Thomas Carlstrom, a neurosugeon from West Des Moines, says the sixty active ingredients in the marijuana plant are providing relief for patients suffering many chronic conditions. Yes, epilepsy,
but also cancer, multiple sclerosis, anorexia, glaucoma and post traumatic stress disorder. Slam dunk, absolutely it works those things just as morphine works for pain, insists Carlstrom.

Former Cedar Rapids City Council Member Don Karr recalls his days in the Navy landing Marines in Vietnam. I saw farmers and their water buffalo get blown to pieces, I mean we were right there. Karr says the anguish of PTSD almost killed him until he took a few hits of pot. The suicide thoughts went away, I started getting grounded. I started feeling more comfortable about myself, I could get stoned and communicate with people. Karr says he was never high at council meetings but smoking at night would help him sleep, relief that has escaped Judy Stover of Iowa City. Im very tired, a lot of pain, a lot of pain in my legs, feet, back, says Stover, a 74-year old great-grandmother who has stuggled with multiple sclerosis for more than fifty years. Nothing has really seemed to touch the pain, says a frustrated Stover. "That is why
Ive been interested in the medical marijuana, that maybe this might help. I would just like the opportunity to try it.

Stover, like Karr, wants that help for others, too, and sees legalizing marijuana as a benefit to society. Control it, tax it. Fix our roads, our bridges just like they do cigarettes and alcohol, says Stover. 

Karr is adamant as he clarifies his position. I dont want my children smoking marijuana just when their brains are developing.  We got a problem now. We ignore marijuana, we ignore drugs and gangs are selling it to children in the schools. They cant get alcohol and cigarettes so easy. We need to have the state government control drugs.

There has never been one documented death from marijuana yet the Federal government says cannabis is just as dangerous as heroin with no medical benefits. The states are well ahead on this issue and proponents
say that's good because as marijuana becomes legal in more states, more research can be done. If you would like to do your own research, we have plenty of resources in the News Links section of this website.
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