Hawaii mother gives 8-year-old daughter medical marijuana for he - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii mother gives 8-year-old daughter medical marijuana for her severe epilepsy

MILILANI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

After school, 8-year-old, MJ, loves taking water balloons and popping them in them in the backyard. Just feet away, her mother, Jari Sugano, grows marijuana plants. She uses the medical cannabis to treat MJ's symptoms for a severe form of epilepsy. Over the years, she's used different varieties including 'purple indica.' Right now, her plants aren't flowering so there's no strong smell, but she rotates them in stages to keep the fumes down.

"We started moving over to plants with high THC," said Sugano.

Four years ago, Sugano got MJ physician-certified to use cannabis when hours long seizures left her hospitalized.

"We thought if we don't do something soon we were going to lose her by the age of five," said Sugano.

She showed us how she's moved from feeding MJ marijuana oils through a feeding tube to making salves and rubbing it on her legs, toes and wrists. She uses Doterra oil along with the marijuana oil to mask the heavy smell. Sugano believes the treatments have saved MJ's life and while she is not cured, the treatments have calmed her seizures.

"She can have them less than a minute and she can bounce back right after that," said Sugano.

The family even converted a bedroom into a grow room.

"We start the baby clones here and we put lights on for 18 hours so they can get big enough," said Sugano.

As a mother and member of the state's dispensary task force, Sugano has mixed feelings about the delays and unknown date when the businesses can sell. She said she understands the incredible work it's taking to lift the program off the ground, but "for a patient and caregiver it's frustrating to have to wait for this process to go through," she said.

When they do open, she'll use the dispensary's products as back-up. She's more worried about other patients who must still get pot from the black market and the dozen parents she's educating about giving medical marijuana to their kids. The long-term impacts of medical marijuana on childhood development are unknown, but Sugano says the benefits far out weigh the risk.

"It's been a 4-year long journey not just to save my child but to understand the plant. This plant is magical," she said.

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