A Mormon family is fighting with the Church of Latter Day Saints over medical marijuana.
Until recently, the Cromar family were active members of the LDS church in Utah - the state most commonly recognized as the epicenter of the Mormon faith. But that changed when the church got in the way of their son's health. Medical marijuana is illegal in Utah, and the LDS Church wants to keep it that way, even though medicinal cannabis could vastly improve the lives of people like Holden Cromar - an 11-year-old with epilepsy who can suffer anywhere from 40 to 100 seizures a day when he doesn't have access to cannabis oil.
"It’s very confusing for people because they see the benefit, but they also see the church step in and say whoa whoa whoa, not in our backyard," David Cromar told Fox13 - an affiliate based in Salt Lake City.
Like many patients with severe epilepsy, Holden didn't respond well to the medications that are allowed in Utah. And his suffering had a heavy toll on his family.
"It's horrible," Cromar said of his son's condition. "I wouldn't wish this life on anybody. You know watching your baby suffer and almost die every single day," said Cromar.
The seizures became so bad that doctors actually suggested removing a piece of Holden's brain in a desperate attempt to improve his condition. But instead of letting him go under the knife, the Cromars moved to Colorado to see if CBD oil - a cannabis extract - could improve his condition.
"We want to eliminate every other possibility before we cut his brain apart, so at that point, we decided to move to Colorado."
Access to CBD helped reduce Holden's seizures by half - a huge improvement over the medication he was previously prescribed. Now the Cromars plan to make Colorado their permanent home, but they haven't turned their backs on Utah. After seeing what medicinal cannabis can do for patients, they have joined the fight to legalize medical marijuana in Utah.
"Coming back and fighting for this initiative really opened our eyes to the fact that people still don't get it," Cromar said. “I want to fight for that for everyone here in Utah, even if we don’t live here.”
And that fight might end in victory as early as November. Despite the LDS's staunch opposition to medical marijuana, Utah will be voting on a legalization ballot initiative this fall. So patients in Utah could get legal access to medicinal cannabis as early as next year.