An Oklahoma group is taking a step toward legalizing medical marijuana in the state. Oklahomans for Health will file an application for petition with the Secretary of State Friday, hoping to put the legalization of medical marijuana up for a statewide vote.
"The time is right now in Oklahoma to really get this going," said Oklahomans for Health chairman, Chip Paul.
Paul said the non-profit group has made it easy for lawmakers, by drafting a proposal to legalize marijuana for medical purposes.
"We've done a lot of research in other states -- what worked, what didn't, what's the most effective way, from a state perspective, to manage this and we've put that language in this initiative, so it should be a very easy thing for the state of Oklahoma to manage," Paul said.
Oklahoma's ban on medical marijuana for medical purposes has some people so desperate they're leaving the state, like little Jaqie Angel Warrior and her family.
Jaqie's mom, Brittany Hardy, said her daughter has the soul of a fighter.
"For a very strong little baby, she's the strongest soul I've ever met in life," said Hardy.
Jaqie is living with a very rare and potentially deadly form of epilepsy. At 20 months old, she's already been hospitalized 25 times and has up to 150 seizures a day.
"Every day that she's able to wake up and live through these seizures is another miracle and I'm tired of gambling with her life here in this state," Hardy said.
Her mom said Jaqie has tried every anti-seizure drug allowed in Oklahoma, with no relief.
"She deserves some peace, she deserves her suffering to end, Oklahoma will never provide her that, not right now anyway," said Hardy. "She doesn't deserve to have to suffer just because of her zip code."
Hardy said Jaqie's doctor agrees that the little girl's only hope is medical marijuana.
The family's couch is loaded down with folded laundry; that's because on Saturday, Jaqie, along with her mom, dad and three sisters, are packing up and moving to Colorado, where medical marijuana is legal.
"As parents, we refuse to let seizures come in and steal our baby," Hardy said. "At this point, we have no other option."
Hardy said her daughter needs what's called cannabidiol oil, or CBD oil, to help reduce her seizures. The compound, Hardy said, has a very low dose of THC, which is the main mind-altering ingredient found in the Cannabis plant.
She said other children in similar situations are responding well to the treatment.
Its stories like Jaqie's that have moved Oklahomans for Health to push the state to lift its ban on medical marijuana.
"Literally, you could go to the Oklahoma State Penitentiary for treating your cancer with marijuana and that's just wrong," Paul said.
He said doctors, not the government, should determine if patients should use pot to treat their pain.
Paul said Oklahoma patients who suffer from serious medical conditions are prescribed pharmaceutical drugs that are highly addictive and have serious side effects.
"They would be far better served with something that's non-addictive, that's an herbal remedy, versus and addictive prescription drug," said Paul.
Jaqie's parents say their little one takes two different narcotics.
"One of them she's physically addicted to, she's been addicted to it since she was 6 months old," Hardy said. "We would literally be arrested if we didn't give them to her."
Hardy said she calls and writes lawmakers nearly every day, begging for an amendment to the law. She, like Paul, believes Oklahoma voters have the right to decide whether medical marijuana should be legalized in the state.
"It's a valid medicine and it needs be recognized as such, it could literally help hundreds of thousands of people," Paul said.
If the state gives Oklahomans for Health the green light on starting a petition, Paul said the plan would be to kick off the initiative June 1st. They would have 90 days to gather 190,000 physical signatures.
Paul said it's going to take a grassroots movement to get the issue on the ballot this November.
Winning that fight, Hardy said, would be the only thing to bring her little warrior back to Oklahoma.
"I strongly believe in my heart, God's purpose for her on this earth was to make change. Make it better for other little babies in her situation," Hardy said.
A donation account has been set up to help Jaqie's family with her medical expenses.
You can read the full Oklahomans for Health proposal on their website.