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2 Valley families move to Colorado in search of cannabis oil to help with their children’s epilepsy

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PEYTON, Colorado - Just over a month ago, two Valley families' lives crossed paths in their new hometown of Peyton, Colorado, 1500 miles away from the only homes they've ever known.

"It's very hard to lose the support system that we had in Ohio. Oh my gosh, and to start all over again finding a doctor, finding the right school, finding the right aid to work with him in the school," said Dana Shaffer

The Shaffer's of North Lima and the Houk's of New Castle moved to Colorado in hopes of helping their young sons, who both have intractable epilepsy. That means their seizures aren't controlled by medications.

Colorado, which has legalized both recreational and medicinal marijuana, is home to Charlotte's Web, a specific strain of marijuana that's processed into an extract high in cannabidiol, or CBD, and low in THC, which means it won't give patients a high.

Some experts believe CBD calms the activity in the brain that causes seizures.

"My number one goal is to just improve his quality of life and whether that means a combination of pharmaceuticals and Charlotte's Web or just Charlotte's Web or whatever it means, as long as his life is better, I'll be happy, but ultimately I would like to have him off the pharmaceuticals because I do know they are doing harm to him," said Amy Houk.

Several times each day, the boys are given the CBD oil, and while both families would love to have their boys off all of their pharmaceutical drugs as soon as possible, it's something, right now, they can't risk.

"We've seen other parents who have completely stopped the pharmaceutical drugs and just put them straight on the oil and the kids end up in the ICU," said Shaffer.

With just one month under their belts, the Shaffer's, whose son Hunter's seizures happen while he sleeps, are somewhat cautious to admit progress, having been let down so many times before with other promises of hope.

"He couldn't remember what was going on from the next day. He couldn't remember what happened the night before. He couldn't remember people's names. He's coming home from school telling us kid's names, the teacher's name. He wakes up in the morning and asks about stuff that happened the day before and that hasn't happened in years," said Shaffer.

The Houk's have had to go several years without seeing the little things many of us take for granted. Cameron, who would have about 150 seizures a day, stopped smiling and would no longer make eye contact, that is until his first dose of the CBD oil.

"He use to do this thing when he was a baby where my husband would blow on his belly. He would count to three and blow on his belly and Cameron would start laughing and that is what he was doing, but he wasn't laughing, but he was almost giving this tiny smile and just looking at him and that's when we both kind of admitted to each other that we were seeing things, improvements," said Houk.

Pivotal steps these mothers now have to witness alone. Both of their husbands have been forced to return to the Valley to help keep their families financially.

"It's just frustrating that it's only available here and in California. I mean I don't see how the government, how they are not seeing this. I mean, there are so many of us and we are not going to stop and wait for them to legalize. We are going to come here. We can't wait for them. We don't know how much time really, we don't know what the last bad seizure is going to happen," said Houk.

Experts say it takes about six months before parents know whether the oil truly works. Both boys will have their brains scanned to get a true seizure count in the coming months.

The Houk's are counting about 60 seizures each day, down from 150 seizures a day. Because Hunter's seizures aren't as noticeable, it's harder to tell, but his mom says they must be slowing since he's now able to remember things.

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