By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Some Minnesota families didn’t want to wait for lawmakers to decide whether or not to legalize marijuana. They’ve already started over in Colorado to be able to treat their sick kids with the plant they believe will make them better.

The Jay family made the move a few weeks from Fort Ripley, Minn. to Bailey, Colo. Their daughter has epilepsy and a specially cultivated pot plant has shown promise in treating seizures.

It has been a long road to be able to make that 1,000-mile move to Colorado, from everything and everyone they knew in Minnesota. Eight-year-old Jenna Jay has epilepsy. Surgeries, diets, and 20 different medications haven’t been enough to control the hundreds of seizures she has suffered every month for more than five years.

“If there’s a chance that it could help why not at least try it,” father Jason Jay said.

The Jay family first heard of a custom-cultivated marijuana plant grown only in Colorado after Charlotte Figi’s parents went public with their story. Charlotte Figi takes a dose of the cannabis oil daily. The plant has a high amount of a compound shown to help control seizures in some kids.

“It’s been two years and she’s off all of her pharmaceuticals,” mother Paige Figi said. “She’s walking, talking, eating. (It’s a) 180-degree difference for us.”

Paige Figi is now helping the families flocking to Colorado to get the drug now known as “Charlotte’s Web.” She’s partnered with the Stanleys, a group of brothers turned cannabis breeders focused on growing strong strains of marijuana to help patients manage pain.

“It’s been a very exciting thing to see this thing grow the way it has, but it’s also been a very bad thing because many of these families didn’t live here and they’ve had to leave their lives, their families, their support groups, sell homes and sell businesses to access this,” Joel Stanley said.

For now, Marie Jay will stay in Colorado with the kids while her husband travels back and forth, still working his machinist job in Minnesota. They are speaking out with the belief their story might change minds before the medical marijuana debate begins in St. Paul next month.

“Hopefully people do the research, look past the stigma and educate themselves. It’s not what people perceive it to be,” Marie Jay said.

Jenna Jay will start on “Charlotte’s Web” in March. It takes months to establish residency in Colorado and receive a medical card before any kind of treatment can begin.

The Stanley brothers are working with more than 100 families that have moved to Colorado, so far. The brothers will begin growing the plant in the next few months in six other states where medical marijuana is legal.

Liz Collin