NEW YORK CITY -- The quest to further legalize marijuana is one driven by love not dollars for Craig Pagano, yet amid the vendors at the Cannabis World Congress and Business Exposition hosted by the International Cannabis Association, Pagano was there to share his story to anyone who would listen.
The father of five from Patchhogue shared with PIX11 News what life has been like for his daughter Beyla after she came into the world weighing 1 pound 4 ounces.
Her birth on Dec. 6, 2009, came at 24 weeks, which is dangerously premature. At one point, Pagano were faced with what appeared to be no more hope following a brain bleed at 3-weeks-old.
"We had to make a choice," Pagano said, "to keep her alive or let her go."
Pagano and his wife refused to take Beyla off of life support.
The five years that have followed have been marked with 37 brain surgeries as well as seizures brought on by epilepsy. Pagano said there was nothing that could help her.
"It was very difficult," he said. "We tried multiple medications obviously through the doctors, her neurologist kind of hit a wall. She was starting to use drugs that were only for adults -- she was 2 1/2 at the time."
Then one day Pagano heard a tip: "I heard about Cannabidol Oil, so I started to research it."
Pagano flew out to California where he purchased the oil that has changed Beyla's life.
"We're so happy with the outcome," he said. "We're so amazed and now everyone is vocal about it."
Pagano said her doctors are on board with the treatments and while he said Beyla's life is much simpler now, it comes at a steep price.
When asked how much he spends a month on his daughter's medication, Pagano said "about 800 bucks."
The reason for such a high price? "No insurance company will touch it, no doctor will prescribe it," he said. "Yet it's completely legal."
Which is why Pagano is speaking out. He is hoping that the big business that is being pushed by others, can ultimately lead to a more cost-effective and better life for him and for Beyla.