Families in need of medical marijuana are leaving their homes around the world and emigrating to America to legally treat their children.
Although medical marijuana is available to just over half the U.S. population, many in the U.S. and around the globe still find themselves in states where cannabis, even for medical uses, is still illegal, despite their need for it. These patients are left with a choice between suffering from their conditions or moving to where medical marijuana is available. This has added a new term to our lexicon – “medical marijuana refugee”.
A recent Guardian article offered a play on the word expatriates when it coined the term “expots” in reference to these patients. Regardless of what we call them, families flocking to the US for its medical marijuana laws is a continuing trend, as they search for relief from their children’s conditions.
Tristan Forde began experiencing up to 20 seizures a day after being diagnosed with Dravet syndrome, a rare form of childhood epilepsy. That’s when his mother decided to move 4000 miles from Ireland to Colorado so that Tristan could get high-CBD medical marijuana, leaving Tristan’s father back home in Ireland to work. After starting his treatment with medical marijuana, Tristan went months without a seizure. Unfortunately, Tristan and his mother will have to leave after their visas expire at the end of the year and go back to Ireland where CBD is illegal. There, the only choice is to break the law to access the medical marijuana they need.
Many aren’t ready to take that chance. This is due in part to the highly publicized fight between a U.S. veteran Raymond Schwab and the state government of Kansas, after the state decided that Schwab’s five children were being put in state custody on suspicion of child endangerment due to his use of medical marijuana for PTSD, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. The idea of losing their children keeps many families from breaking local marijuana laws, so they look to move.
Left with the choice of being a criminal or moving thousands of miles away, these families uproot themselves from their homes, jobs, and support systems to move to states where they can access the medical marijuana they consider lifesaving for their families.
With the addition of Pennsylvania in April, there are now 24 states that have medical marijuana laws in the U.S. Many families move to Colorado, specifically, for a number of reasons: including ease of availability, support groups for parents, and the high number of doctors specializing in the medical uses of cannabis. The state’s reputation as a haven for medical marijuana refugees has also been a cause of its popularity, perpetuating the trend.
The concept of medical marijuana refugees is nothing new. Medical Marijuana, Inc. sponsored the #dontmove campaign to raise awareness for the availability of CBD oil from hemp in all 50 states to counter reports in the mainstream media stating that patients must move to Colorado to obtain CBD.
Not all families do move. Some stay and challenge the status quo. This was true of the Howards, who were able to remain in their home near Dallas, Texas, and access Real Scientific Hemp Oil™ (RSHO™) for their daughter Harper. Internationally, the Fischer family in Brazil successfully fought for their daughter’s right to RSHO™ in the Brazilian courts when it was declared inhumane to keep their daughter Anny from accessing CBD hemp oil. Even just over the border in Mexico, where the war on marijuana has been felt the most, the Elizalde family were the impetus for a revolutionary change in the Mexican drug policy when they started a grassroots campaign in conjunction with HempMeds® Mexico to allow the importation of RSHO™ into the country.
Unlike high-CBD products created from marijuana, CBD hemp oil products are legal to purchase and ship to all 50 states and a number of international markets. This means that many families don’t need to move to access CBD for their children, and the ones that do relocate, don’t need to choose Colorado or a similar medical marijuana state, opening the option to move close to family or other support groups already in the country.