Every minute that it takes for a bill to expand Missouri's medical marijuana program to make its way through the state legislature is excruciating for Cassandra Peterson and her daughter Elliana. Cassandra is pushing for the proposed bill to pass so that Elliana and other patients under 18 years old are eligible to use marijuana medicinally.
At age three, Elliana was diagnosed with a debilitating form epilepsy. Without proper treatment, she could die from the condition before she reaches age 13. Peterson believes medical marijuana is the answer to the problems her family has been facing.
"Right now she's on three different medications. She's been on eight different medications but none of them help her because she's medication intolerant and it doesn't help her seizures at all," Peterson told KSPR. "These medicines, they have warnings on them. They'll kill you if you take too much."
In contrast, nobody has ever died of a marijuana overdose - ever. Even the DEA admits that. But it can substantially improve the quality of life for patients like Elliana.
"Having a medicine that's not going to take her function of life away would be amazing," Cassandra added.
Peterson says the biggest road block in the way of expanding Missouri's medical marijuana legislation is the lack of research on how cannabis effects the mind.
"Just because the brain's not understood a lot every doctor's got their own opinions on what's going on or what they think she needs done or even her diagnosis."
But one thing is painfully clear. This is not a condition that Elliana will grow out of, it is something she will have to deal with for the rest of her life. So getting the best medicine as soon as possible is crucial for the sake of Cassandra as well as her daughter.
"You never know how long a minute is until you watch your child seize."