COLUMBUS, Oh. (NBC4) – For weeks, the face of legalizing medical marijuana in Ohio has been a young girl and her family, who moved from Ohio to Colorado to legally get medical marijuana.
Photos: Addyson’s medical journey
In a rented home in an upscale, middle class neighborhood in Colorado, Heather Benton makes it clear that she’s proud that she and her daughter have become the faces of medical marijuana in the Midwest.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Heather said, as she settled in to the couch in her family room.
Political ads, featuring Heather and 4-year-old Addyson Benton have been playing around the clock for weeks across Ohio.
Yet in the suburb of Denver, Heather can only get a sense from family and friends back home how big her voice has become.
The claim in the ad is clear that 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.
Seizures and sedation
Eight 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.”
A YouTube video of Addyson, posted and shared by her family reveal of lethargic child, 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.
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.
”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.
A kid again
When asked whether it works, Heather doesn’t hesitate.
“She’s gone from Hundreds of visible seizures a day to under five,” 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 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.”