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Families Hopeful After Cannabis Passes

CORALVILLE, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) -- After the Iowa legislature passed a bill to legalize the use of medical cannabis in Iowa at 4:30 a.m. on Thursday, families across the state breathed a sigh of relief as they look forward to soothing the suffering of their loved ones with the drug.

Coralville mom Deb Blair said she is hopeful that medical cannabis oil will help to end a lifetime of pain from seizures for her son, Michael, 16.

When Michael was just 18 months old he was diagnosed with tuberous sclerosis, a rare genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow in the body, including the brain, and gave Michael profound autism and seizures.

"That was a really tough time to see your little boy disappear like that," Blair said.

With her young son having nearly 12 seizures a day at that time, Blair gave Michael any drug that promised relief.

"The side effects were as bad as the seizures," she said.

The seizures subsided for a while after Michael went on a ketogenic diet, but returned when he hit puberty. During his teenage years, Michael's doctors put him on Keppra. It stopped his seizures, and his personality.

"He stopped  community with us at all, he didn't talk, he didn't smile, he didn't laugh, you could just put him in a room and he just wouldn't interact with us," Blair said. "It seems like too high a price to pay to lose his entire personality."

To see the legislature pass a bill to legalize medical cannabis gives Blair hope.

"He's going to be a lot happier, and we'll have less concern about aggression. And I think his life will be better. Our lives will be better," Blair said.

"I'm certainly empathetic to the families who have children who are suffering from epilepsy and think this might be able to be some help," said Gov. Terry Branstad.

Senate sponsor Joe Bolkcom is glad that's the case.

"I'm really pleased that these families were successful in making their case and that legislators listened and acted in a compassionate, Iowa way," Bolkcom said.

Bolkcom said he is hopeful families will start to have access early this summer, and that this is a first step to further legalization, including allowing production in the state.

Blair is so optimistic, she has already told Michael's neurologist she wants to get him a recommendation for the drug.

"The next thing we would do is figure out how we would get it in Colorado," Blair said, smiling.

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