Chaz Moore misses his friends and is bored at home.
He hasn't been in a traditional public high school since February, when Harrison School District 2 administrators decided he couldn't attend classes after taking his physician-recommended medical marijuana. Back then, the Indy covered his exodus from Sierra High School using the pseudonym "Bill Smith," but Chaz and his father Shan have since become public critics of a policy that's led the family from Sierra to private and charter schools, to tutors in the library and, finally, to home.
It's all been quite a lot for a 17-year-old.
"I'd like to go back to regular school, where I sit in a classroom and have other kids around me and teachers," he says.
Now Chaz spends his days taking classes online — he's carrying a C average at the Gold Academy — and helping his dad split and deliver firewood. He'd like to become a lawyer to fight for his rights, or a counselor working with hospitalized children. "Just 'cause you're sick doesn't mean you can't pursue something in life," Chaz says.
Shan would like to see his son return to school, but knows that's unlikely. (Sierra officials have not returned repeated calls seeking comment.) So he, with Chaz, is pursuing activism. They're both trying to inform more people about medical marijuana issues by speaking once a month on Laurie White's Consumer Advocate Show on KREL-AM 1580 and staying on top of events.
"We're trying to get it where a nurse at a school could dispense [MMJ], or at a nursing home," he says.
Chaz's attacks started in 2010, and it took more than four months before a doctor diagnosed him with Myoclonus Diaphragmatic Flutter, a seizing of muscles in the chest that causes a violent, hiccup-like sensation. At least three times a week during that period, he wound up in the ER.
"It's like my dad jumping up and down on my chest over and over again," Chaz says. "And he's not a light person."
According to the Moores, doctors originally accused the teen of faking it for the medicine, or said it was all in his head. Then, in the hospital, his dad watched while staff injected Chaz with Valium and other narcotics. He feared watching his son get addicted to prescription medications.
"What is my son going to be when he turns 18 or 20 years old?" he remembers asking himself. "Is he going to be the next kid out there robbing a Walgreens for Oxycontin?"
When prescription drugs, such as anti-seizure medications and those used for Parkinson's patients, became less and less effective, a neurologist suggested medical marijuana. Shan says he initially was skeptical, but after research felt more comfortable with that than a lot of the other medicines Chaz had taken. He is now off of all traditional prescription medications.
Before Chaz started on MMJ, the family spent 117 days in the ER, a hospital room or a doctor's office, Shan says. He could have as many as 25 attacks in a day. Now a bad day means six attacks. He can take his medicine, 150 mg twice a day, and he's on his way again.
"When his attacks first started, it was terrifying," Shan says. "Now we joke about them more than anything. We know MMJ will stop them quickly, and he's not going to die from an overdose."