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Vote on medical marijuana will decide whether some families stay -- or leave Florida

 Nicolas Peruyero was 8 years old, blind and unable to walk or talk when his mother saw a documentary about the benefits of medical marijuana and its promise to reduce seizures.

For a few moments, Nancy Peruyero imagined what Nicolas’ life might be like without the relentless myoclonic seizures every day. And for the first time, she allowed herself to hope, an emotion she had rarely felt since that August afternoon in 2009 when her youngest son was diagnosed with Batten disease, an unusual neurological disorder marked by seizures, loss of motor skills and mental impairment. His life expectancy with the disease is no more than 12 years. He turned 9 on Oct.2.

“We want to try medical marijuana in hopes that it will calm his seizures and help him become more alert and sleep better,” said Peruyero, 41, who first watched the CNN documentary Weed about a year ago. “We want to be able to have all our options. For us, this is a quality of life issue. What parent would not do everything they could to help their child?”

Politics aside, for families with medically needy children, Florida’s march into the world of medical marijuana — fraught with differing opinions by legislators, medical professionals and patients, and little scientific evidence — is personal, built upon the anecdotal evidence of cannabis’ healing properties. It’s not a miracle drug, they say, but rather a compassionate alternative treatment.

These families are faced with balancing the hope that expanded medical marijuana will become available if Florida voters pass a constitutional amendment on Nov.4 and the daunting reality that even with that approval, the marketplace could be a long time coming. Story by Audra Burch here. 

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