As 2013 draws to a close, supporters of medical marijuana are gearing up for another push to change state law, but for some Tennesseans, it will be too late.
Next week, new legislation is set to be introduced in the state legislature that would legalize medical marijuana.
But as the debate is taken up here, one Tennessee family is preparing to cut ties with family, friends and their church, all in a quest to help their daughter.
Millie Mattison, who is 21 months old, spends most of her life sedated by drugs.
"She is on one of the most potent epilepsy medications," said Nicole Mattison, Millie's mom. "She is taking 2,000 milligrams a day, which would basically be equivalent to a grown man."
Millie's dad, Penn Mattison, said she began life as a pretty normal child.
Shortly after she was born, Millie started to have health problems that only got worse.
"She was having upward of 200 to 300 seizures a day," said Penn Mattison. "So we finally kind of figured out what it was, and that's when the roller coaster began."
So the Mattisons started looking for solutions.
"We have not been able to come up with a diagnosis or anything to solve the issues that we're having," said Penn Mattison.
Their quest recently led them to Colorado, where they spoke with doctors about using medical marijuana to treat their daughter.
"I think any parent would do whatever it takes to try to find a solution for their child," said Penn Mattison. "There's no going backwards for us. With that said, this is the next local step for us."
They're next step is a big one … they're moving to Colorado in a few weeks.
As more families like the Mattisons leave the state, Paul Kuhn, a board member for Tennessee NORML, is working to keep them here through legislation.
He said Colorado is a good model when it comes to legalizing medical marijuana.
"There are some states that don't have the type of medical marijuana legislation that we want to have here, which is tightly controlled, that would create jobs, that would bring in tens of billion dollars of revenue to the state," Kuhn said.
For the Mattisons, they're dreaming big about their daughter's life with the hope medical marijuana will bring some improvement.
"We refuse to give up," said Penn Mattison. "We feel like there's something that can be done."
Penn Mattison said the medical marijuana won't get their daughter high; rather it will help with her seizures.
Once Millie starts treatment in Colorado, she won't be able to return to Tennessee unless there's a change to the state law.
So far, 21 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana.
Tennessee lawmakers return to work on Jan. 14.
Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Monday, September 1 2014 6:04 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:04:35 GMT
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