They are a group of moms who have been fighting the stigma, paving the way, and educating themselves about the benefits of medical marijuana. They say they're doing it for their children, all of whom are fighting chronic illnesses.
Parisa Mansouri-Rad says she first started looking into the benefits of cannabis while trying to find ways to bring comfort to her 16-year old daughter, Yazy, who was born premature at 23 weeks. She is blind, has cerebral palsy and scoliosis. A spinal fusion surgery left her in a lot of pain. Then her lower intestine collapsed, leading to a severe chronic illness, that also caused a lot of discomfort and pain.
"We tried a myriad of pharmaceuticals to figure out what would work, she was like a guinea rabbit for the doctors," said Mansouri-Rad.
"Not only was she on pain medication that was really damaging to her body, but on other pharmaceuticals that we then had to treat with other pharmaceuticals because of the side effects," she added.
She got a medical marijuana caregiver card, for her daughter so she could get her access to products with CBD and THC, key ingredients in the plants.
Mansouri-Rad says the results were miraculous.
"It helps with pain, sleeping, depression and anxiety. Also she's not suffering from nausea anymore, not suffering from pain, her overall mood is better, she's acting like a kid again," she added.
Brandy Williams has a 6-year old son with epilepsy and autism. She says she was emotionally overwhelmed with the impact medical cannabis had on her child's behavior.
"He was having 7-15 seizures a day. He was banging his head 75-150 times per day. I have scars all over my arms from him biting through my flesh. Every door in our home had a hole in it from his head," said Williams.
She said as soon as she gave his first dose of CBD oil, she saw the transformation in 20 minutes. He was calm, more focused, and was actually able to sit through a movie.
"My son's entire world has changed," said Williams.
"I couldn't imagine going through another four years of autism without medical marijuana," she added.
The boy who once could not go out to eat with his family could now sit through a whole meal, according to Williams. She says he was engaging more with his siblings, learning and retaining more information, and smiling a lot more than he did before.
For Yazy, her medical marijuana came in the form of patches put on her skin. For Logan, it was a small amount of the CBD oil/paste, smaller than a grain of rice, mixed in with his favorite cereal.
The mothers who are part of the organization MomForce Arizona said they were now dedicating their lives to educating other parents about the effects it had on their children.
"To me it means everything. I feel if we can help share this message we can save other kids from suffering," said Mansouri-Rad.
Opponents of medical marijuana stated there were no real studies citing the effects of medical marijuana on the body. Many doctors were hesitant about prescribing it to patients, especially children.
Both women said, their primary care physicians, who did not prescribe the medication, were amazed by the impact it was having on their patients.
Mansouri-Rad added many studies had been done about the side effects of pharmaceutical medications she was giving her child, and some of what she read was very scary.
"We have no problems giving our kids antidepressants, and all these other drugs so what's wrong with giving them something natural that makes them feel happy," she added.
The latest State Department of Health report indicates 176 children in Arizona have qualified for a medical marijuana card. The parent has to apply as a caregiver, and two doctors have to sign off for the application to go through.
As part of National Autism Awareness Month MomForce AZ is having a special meeting to educate other moms about how medical cannabis has impacted their autistic children.
The meeting will be held on Wednesday April 19th at the Monastery in Mesa. The address is 4810 E. McKellips Road. The meeting begins at 6 p.m.