Some People Are Moving to the U.S. Just For Medical Marijuana

May 9, 2016, 7:12 PM UTC
Operations Inside The Tweed Inc. Production Facility As Trudeau Win Signals Gains For Marijuana Stocks
Medical marijuana buds dry in preparation for final packaging at the Tweed Inc. facility in Smith Falls, Ontario, Canada, on Nov. 11, 2015. Construction and marijuana companies are poised to benefit from the Liberal Party's decisive win in Canada's election, with leader Justin Trudeau vowing to fund infrastructure spending with deficits and legalize cannabis. Photographer: James MacDonald/Bloomberg via Getty Images
James MacDonald — Bloomberg via Getty Images

While some Americans may cross state borders to buy legal marijuana, some parents are traveling thousands of miles—spending months or years away from home—to get their children medical cannabis in the U.S.

A small group of people, “international marijuana refugees,” are even immigrating to the U.S. in order to treat disorders associated with seizures for their children when marijuana is outlawed in their home nation, according to the Guardian.

The paper noted in one case, two year-old Tristan Forde and his mother moved 4,000 miles from Dunmanway, Ireland, to access legal medical marijuana in Aurora, Colorado. After treatment, Tristan went from as many as 20 seizures a day, to none—but the pair will have to leave the U.S. by the end of the year, when their visas expire.

“People bring kids to me from Germany, the Czech Republic—we’ve had them from all over,” Sean Beeman, a medical marijuana producer in Oregon, told the Guardian. “Pot is everywhere, but this medicine isn’t. So that’s why people travel.”

Parents who try to obtain marijuana illegally in their own home nations also risk shoddy treatment, or even losing custody of their children should they be caught.

It’s unclear how many families from countries that haven’t legalized marijuana have moved to the U.S. in search of treatment. Outreach director Nicole Mattison for Colorado-based nonprofit backing families seeking cannabinoid therapy, Realm of Caring, estimates that roughly 400 families have moved to the Colorado for that purpose.

Notably, studies of cannabidiols have not been completely conclusive.

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