SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Legalizing marijuana for medical purposes has been a tough fight in some states because it's not an FDA approved treatment at this time.
But lawmakers around the country hope continued research by the federal government will give them an answer one way or another as to the medical benefits of the drug.
One of the politicians working behind the scenes of issue is none other than South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley.
The Hendrickson family is doing everything they legally can to treat their four year-old son's seizures.
Eliyah Hendrickson has Dravet syndrome and the best way they've found to treat his condition is with Cannabidiol, a marijuana derivative that is currently illegal in South Dakota.
The Hendrickson family savors moments like these with their son.
Due to the nature of Eliyah’s disease, his seizures can be extremely difficult to treat.
“Can take very long durations of time to the point of they can shut his brain down. So, then you have to introduce so much medicine into his system pharmacologically to try and stop the seizures that you also run the risk of medicine shutting down his respiratory system,” George Hendrickson explained.
The one medicine that they say helps the most is medical marijuana, particularly the derivative CBD.
They say it can help protect his brain during seizures.
“If he has an episode of seizures there’s a layer of protection in there that is quite possibly limiting the amount of damage he's taking neurologically during those seizure attacks,” the father explained.
Eliyah cannot walk or talk.
They said while the boy was treated in Colorado they saw how CBD could help his cognitive function.
“Within three days I had a son all of the sudden that was no longer looking through me, but he was looking at me. He was interacting with me, actually wanting to play with me on the floor instead of just sit there and spin a toy,” George said.
The family says they are grateful for what Marty Jackley is working to do.
“I think it is very courageous. Marty Jackley has a heart. He’s met my son, he's met patients before, he's knows there's a struggle out there, he also knows that there’s the law enforcement side of it and he has a large issue to deal with,” George said.
They hope the effort can help to legalize CBD in the state.
Jackley says three important conditions must be met for legalization in the state.
It must be FDA approved, prescribed by a doctor, and dispensed by a pharmacist.
In recent correspondence between Marty Jackley and the DEA, the federal agency assured that they will strive to make it easier for research into the medical value of drugs containing CBD.