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Marijuana Refugees

Families are moving from across the country in search of a cannabis oil only available in Colorado. The families, who all have children with forms of severe epilepsy, hope the oil will stop or reduce the seizures in their children.

MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Sydni Yunek, 9, sits with her mother, Holli Brown, as Ezra Kiser, 1, sleeps on the couch behind them one day before both Sydni and Ezra receive their first dose of the Charlotte's Web cannabis oil Wednesday, October 23, 2013. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Sydni Yunek, 9, who has epilepsy, plays on the floor of her Colorado Springs apartment Tuesday, October 15, 2013. Sydni's mother, Holli Brown, started a private Facebook group that has brought together dozens of families moving to Colorado in search of cannabis oil to treat their children's seizures. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Holli Brown helps her daughter Sydni Yunek, 9, to the bathroom Wednesday, October 23, 2013, one night before Sydni receives her first dose of the Charlotte's Web cannabis oil. Sydni, who can have up to 3000 seizures in a day, usually wears a helmet to prevent damage from falling and needs constant supervision. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Holli Brown holds up her daughter, Sydni Yunek, 9, as she uses the bathroom before bedtime Wednesday, October 23, 2013, one night before she takes her first dose of cannabis oil. Sydni's severe epilepsy has held back her development, leaving her mother with the task of helping her with even the most simple of tasks. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Holli Brown brushes the teeth of her daughter, Sydni Yunek, 9, Wednesday, October 23, 2013, one night before she takes her first dose of cannabis oil. Sydni's severe epilepsy has held back her development, leaving her mother with the task of helping her with even the most simple of tasks. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Sydni Yunek sits in the bed she shares with her mother Wednesday, October 23, 2013, one night before she takes her first dose of cannabis oil. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Sydni Yunek looks into her night light as it casts stars on the walls around her room Wednesday, October 23, 2013, one night before she takes her first dose of cannabis oil. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Marisa Kiser, left, and Holli Brown celebrate after receiving the first dose of the Charlotte's Web cannabis oil Thursday, October 22, 2013 that they hope will stop or reduce the hundreds of seizures their children have everyday. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
A crowd of friends and family gather to watch Holli Brown give her daughter Sydni Yunek her first dose of Charlotte's Web cannabis oil Thursday, October 22, 2013. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Sydni Yunek lies unresponsive on the floor during a seizure Thursday, October 22, 2013. Even though Sydni's mother, Holli Brown, has high hopes for the cannabis oil that she started taking earlier in the day, Sydni has to start on the medicine slowly and possibly won't see the full effect of the drug for months. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Sydni Yunek laughs while playing with her mother in their apartment Friday, October 25, 2013 just one day after she started a dose of the Charlotte's Web cannabis oil. Just 30 hours after taking the oil, improvements were noticeable as Sydni's seizures dropped and she started forming more complete sentences and could walk without falling over. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Sydni Yunek starts laughing as her mother, Holli Brown, makes a funny face at her Friday, October 25, 2013, just one day after Sydni started taking a dose of cannabis oil from the marijuana strain Charlotte's Web. The previous day, Sydni was having trouble keeping her balance or answering questions with more than one word answers because of her severe epilepsy. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Holli Brown holds her daughter, Sydni Yunek, as they explore a field of Charlotte's Web cannabis during a tour the Realm of Caring farm Tuesday, October 29, 2013. Sydni, who is taking Charlotte's Web oil to help stop her seizures, started on her first does of the oil just a few days before their tour. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Marisa Kiser-Podvin holds her son, Ezra Kiser, who has severe epilepsy before he takes his first dose of Charlotte's Web cannabis oil Thursday, October 22, 2013. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Steva Kiser tries to wake up her grandson, Ezra Kiser, who has severe epilepsy, before he takes his first dose of Charlotte's Web cannabis oil Thursday, October 22, 2013. The family hopes the oil will stop or reduce his seizures. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Marisa Kiser-Podvin gives her one-year-old son Ezra, who has severe epilepsy, his first dose of Charlotte's Web cannabis oil Thursday, October 22, 2013. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Ezra Kiser has a seizure in his mother's arms Thursday, October 22, 2013. Even though Ezra's mother, Marisa Kiser-Podvin, has high hopes for the cannabis oil that he started taking earlier in the day, Ezra has to start on the medicine slowly and possibly won't see the full effect of the drug for months. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Steva Kiser holds her grandson Ezra Kiser as they walk through a field of Charlotte's Web cannabis during a tour the Realm of Caring farm Tuesday, October 29, 2013. Ezra, who is taking Charlotte's Web oil to help stop his seizures, started on his first does of the oil just a few days before their tour. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Holli Brown, left, smiles at Ezra Kiser as he is carried through a field of Charlotte's Web cannabis by his mother, Marisa Kiser-Podvin, at the Stanley brothers' farm Tuesday, October 29, 2013. Both Marisa and Holli hope the oil from this strain of cannabis will help stop or reduce the severe epilepsy in their children. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Madeline Lightle, 9, smells the bud of a cannabis plant Tuesday, October 29, 2013 after it was harvested and trimmed at the Realm of Caring cannabis farm where they grow Charlotte's Web. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Mohamad Halabi drove to Colorado two weeks before his family to setup their new life in Colorado Springs. The Halabi family is moving from New York for their three-year-old child, Mia, who has severe epilepsy. They hope the cannabis oil treatment here will stop the 10-15 seizures she has every day. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Mohamad Halabi wraps his daughter, Mia, in a blanket outside the Denver International Airport after his wife, daughter, son and mother arrived in Colorado from New York Saturday, October 12, 2013. The family uprooted their lives in New York in order to give their daughter a chance at a normal life using a cannabis oil made from Charlotte's Web: a strain of marijuana high in cannabidiol that is thought to stop or reduce seizures. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Mohamad Halabi holds his daughter, Mia, as she seizes after arriving in Colorado from New York Saturday, October 12, 2013. Mia has 10-15 seizures a day with her current drug regimen. Before the drugs she would have hundreds each day. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Mohamad Halabi prepares to feed his daughter, Mia, through her gastric feeding tube after arriving at their home for the first time Saturday, October 12, 2013. The combination of drugs Mia uses to repress her seizures causes her to not have much of an appetite, so she uses the feeding tube to get her nutrients instead. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Mia Halabi rests while squeezed between two couch cushions at her new Colorado Springs home Saturday, October 12, 2013. While she cannot move much besides her arms and her legs, after being taken off of one of her many seizure medications, she has started to be able to support her head. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Mia Halabi, right, rests from a seizure after her mother, Miriam Khaled, center, and grandmother, Hoda Halabi, left, set her down in her new Colorado Springs home Saturday, October 12, 2013. The family moved from New York for Mia, who has 10-15 seizures a day, in hopes of treating her epilepsy with the oil from the cannabis strain Charlotte's Web. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Mia Halabi rests on a bean bag chair in the living room while being fed through her gastric feeding tube Saturday, October 12, 2013. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Mazan Halabi, 6, left, watches as his mother prepares to give Mia her medication and put her to bed for the family's first night in their Colorado Springs home Saturday, October 12, 2013. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Mazan Halabi, left, hides in a corner as his mother and grandmother put his younger sister, Mia, to bed for the first night in their new Colorado Springs home Saturday, October 12, 2013. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Mia Halabi rests at Children's Hospital Colorado at Memorial Hospital after being admitted for vomiting and kidney stones Thursday, October 17, 2013. Mia's kidney stones are a direct result of her special diet that is designed to stop her seizures. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Mia Halabi rests in bed at Children's Hospital Colorado in Aurora, Colo. Wednesday, October 23, 2013 after she was admitted for kidney stones and vomiting as a result of her pharmacutical seizure medication and diet. Mia, who has a severe seizure disorder, moved to Colorado from New York with her family in hopes that cannabis oil will cure her seizures. Although she was supposed to start on the oil last week, the state has yet to send her medical marijuana card that would allow her to purchase and start on the medication Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Miriam Khaled checks a monitor as her daughter, Mia Halabi, writhes in her bed at Children's Hospital Colorado Wednesday, October 23, 2013. Mia, who has a severe epilepsy and was admitted to the hospital with kidney stones and vomiting, moved to Colorado from New York with her family in hopes that cannabis oil will cure her seizures. Mia won't be starting the oil until early November. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Mia Halabi, 2, who has severe epilepsy, lies on a bean bag chair behind a staircase railing Friday, November 1, 2013. Mia is stuck in a bureaucratic no-mans-land, where she has been approved by the state for medical marijuana a month ago, but cannot get it because she has not received her paperwork. Mia's parents hope the cannabis oil will stop or reduce the 10-15 seizures she has every day. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Miriam Khaled looks out the window of her daughter's room at Children's Hospital Colorado Wednesday, October 23, 2013. The family spent the past week in the hospital for complications resulting from the drug regiment and diet Mia is on to treat her seizures. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Mia Halabi, 2, who has severe epilepsy, lies on the floor of the living room Thursday, October 31, 2013, as her parents eat dinner. Because Mia can't support herself, the floor is the safest place for her when her parents aren't actively watching her. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Jesse Stanley, one of six brothers who have pioneered the use of medical cannabis for pediatric use to treat seizures, holds up Mia Halabi's first dose Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at the brothers' Denver laboratory. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Mohamed Halabi sits on the couch with his epileptic daughter, Mia Halabi, before putting her to bed Thursday, October 31, 2013. The Halabi's, who moved to Colorado from New York, will have to wait to give their daughter the cannabis oil they moved here for because of delays at the state marijuana registry. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Mia Halabi's feet stick out of the covers after her parents put her to bed Thursday, October 31, 2013. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Mia Halabi sleeps in Friday, November 1, 2013. Mia usually wakes up to seizures and has recently been irritable most of the morning said her mother, Miriam Khaled. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Miriam Khaled tries to get her daughter Mia Halabi, 2, to play with her Friday, November 1, 2013. Mia woke up very irritable and didn't stop fidgeting and start to focus more until the afternoon. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Mia Halabi swings her arms and legs and blows spit bubbles as she lies restless on a bean bag chair Friday, November 1, 2013. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Madeline Lightle, 9, who has severe epilepsy sits on the floor of her new living room in Colorado Springs Tuesday, October 15, 2013. Madeline's parents decided to move the family to Colorado from Virginia two weeks ago after hearing about Charlotte's Web and realizing the next best option was to remove half of her brain in an attempt to stop her seizures. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Madeline Lightle, left, and her mother Dara Lightle try to catch snowflakes on their tongues Tuesday, October 15, 2013. The family moved from Virginia to Colorado Springs two weeks ago and coincidentally ended up renting the house next to the Halabi family. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
From left, Paula Lyles, Jordan Lyles, 18, Madeline Lightle, 9, and Dara Lightle hold hands in prayer as they say Grace at The Olive Garden Tuesday, October 15, 2013. Both girls have seizure disorders that prompted their families to move to Colorado Springs in the last few weeks to receive oil from the cannabis strain Charlotte's Web in hopes that it will stop their children's spasms. While families leave their home states behind, they are finding a new community in Colorado Springs full of families dealing with similar disorders. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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MARIJUANA REFUGEES
Jordan Lyles, 18, who has dravet syndrome and moved to Colorado from Ohio, blows a letter into the mail slot as she, her mother and the Lightle family wait to mail in her medical marijuana card application Tuesday, October 15, 2013. After she gets her card, Jordan will be able to start receiving cannabis oil to help repress her seizures. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

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