TEMPE, Ariz. (KSAZ) - A grassroots group of east valley families are doing something out of the ordinary to help their families find normalcy in today's society.
Harvesting Hope is helping one valley mother treat her daughter's epilepsy with medical marijuana and it's working.
The girl takes the Harle-Tsu strain for her epilepsy and it's a labor of love for Jessica Crozier.
"I actually have a system, I get all set up, I have my capsules, I have my funnel," she said. "It does smell like you're typical pot, and to be honest, I had to get used to that.
Harle-Tsu is just one kind of medical cannabis Jessica's daughter, Emma, takes daily. She also takes Harlequin and Charlotte's Web, a hemp oil that helps children nationally with pediatric epilepsy, just like Emma.
"We got the diagnosis, which means she didn't make any of her own hormones," Jessica said.
One of Emma's symptoms was seizures.
"She's tried at least 10 to 15 medications over the course of her life," Jessica said. "At the worst, her seizures were about four-to-seven a day, lasting 45 seconds each. Sometimes she would stopped breathing and her lips would turn blue, sometimes she would fall asleep or become ill."
Jessica and her husband decided to try something they had been against for many years: Medical marijuana.
"I had some friends say, 'Why don't you think about cannabis?'" she said. "I didn't believe in it as a medicine. I knew it as pot, as a drug, so my husband and I were leery. We did our research. I am a teacher and by nature, I research and do my homework."
She discovered there is non-THC cannabis and other strains with a small amount of THC, which is the chemical component that can make one high. However, because the amount is so small in Emma's dosage, it doesn't have that effect.
"With her dose, she's not high at all, she's never acting high or aloof or anything like that," Jessica said.
In fact, the opposite has occurred. Emma's artwork has come a long way, her handwriting has improved, and even her relationship with teachers, family and friends has gotten better.
This is why Jessica now works with Harvest of Tempe, which is a dispensary that helps families across the state find the cannabis they need to help treat their child with pediatric epilepsy.
"There are some doctors and neurologists who are not quite on board and that is OK, but you can't deny the progress that you see right in front of you when parents come to you and say their kid is having one or two (seizures) a week, instead of 15 in a day," Jessica said.
It's the relief a family needs and the only way some have been able to find hope.
"With this medication, the cloud has lifted and we're finally meeting the true Emma and seeing her real personality," Jessica said.
Emma was gluten-free and saw seizures drop during the day with the cannabis and saw no more nighttime seizures.
Harvesting Hope is a non-profit organization created to help young children living in Arizona who suffer from pediatric epilepsy.
For more information, go to their website by clicking here.