Not only is marijuana contributing to a better quality of life for many patients suffering from serious, debilitating medical conditions, but it is also saving lives. Several years ago, physicians told Mieko Hester-Perez that there was no hope of survival for her nine-year-old son, Joey, who was diagnosed at a very early age with autism and Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

"It was probably the most horrible time in my life. We did not know what to do. It was a very dark place for us," Hester-Perez told ABC News. "I did have people tell me, 'You need to place Joey in a home.' And I said, 'No, Joey is a part of this family. He's going to stay a part of this family."

However, she says that ever since her son began using a special strain of marijuana developed specifically for him, called “Joey’s Strain,” he has made major improvements. She says that after consuming only one cannabis brownie per week, Joey has gained weight, calmed down and seems happier -- a world of difference from the boy that was taking 13 pills a day and still getting worse.

In order to come up with Joey’s Strain, Hester-Perez says the family turned to the Buds and Roses Collective in Studio City, where they first had to experiment with nearly 15 unique strains of cannabis oil in an attempt to find one that worked best to treat Joey’s symptoms.

Aaron Justis, the president of the Buds and Roses Collective, says more parents with special needs children are now coming to him for assistance in finding medicine to help their kids lead better lives. “It’s very satisfying and now we’re getting more and more parents to work with,” he said. “People are getting it. The science is behind it. It feels really good.”

With Joey’s Strain, the dispensary’s master cultivator, Kyle Kushman, used the organic nutrients, Veganics, which he says, “is one of the most therapeutically active substances known to man.”

Hester-Perez, who is now active with NORML, says that although Joey may never experience many of the activities normal, healthy children get to do, “But he will smile, and that's all I've ever wanted.”