GREENE COUNTY, Tenn. - A family in Greene County, Tennessee is trying to save their daughter's life. Their toddler has been suffering from debilitating seizures since she was 6-weeks-old. But the treatment her doctor advises - is illegal in Tennessee.
Her parents shared Maggie's story with me. The 16-month old suffers from "intractable epilepsy" - among other medical problems - and has hundreds of seizures each day. Her mother, Rachael Selmeski describes the infantile spasms as short, saying they look like a "startle response", and it's a quick jerk. But it's a generalized seizure every time.
Developmentally, Maggie is more than a year behind. She is on anti-seizure medications - which are FDA approved for adults - but not for children. And they have detrimental side effects. "You can tell she doesn't have the neck control and the core strength, her muscle tone is very floppy, and part of that is, she's on 3 different sedating medicines that are just destroying her body."
But her doctor from Vanderbilt Medical Center says there's another answer, with no known side effects - cannabis oil from medical marijuana. Shawn Selmeski, Maggie's father, says "We've exhausted our resources. This is all we've got left. This is one of our last shots, so we're going to take it."
Maggie's parents see the drug as their best option, and they are petitioning Tennessee lawmakers to legalize the marijuana for medicinal purposes. The idea has come before legislators several times in the past - most recently in March of this year - but has failed every time. I spoke with Tennessee Representative Sherry Jones, who has sponsored bills to legalize medical marijuana, and she tells me she plans to introduce the legislation again this session. Rachael adds, "We're seeking something better for our family and the law is restricting that right now."
Right now medical marijuana is legal in 20 states - plus Washington DC.
And Shawn and Rachel say they can't waste any more time waiting for Tennessee to change its laws, so they're moving to Colorado where they can get their only child the help she needs legally.
Her father tells me, "I think it's very powerful for a lot of people to watch our journey with Maggie and our trust and faith. This is exactly what God wants for us and where God's leading us."
If you'd like to help the Selmeski family with medical expenses, follow this link.
Medical Marijuana is legal:
6. Washington, D.C.
15. New Hampshire
16. New Jersey
17. New Mexico
19. Rhode Island