Georgia House of Representatives pass medical marijuana bill - Alabamas13.com WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

Georgia House of Representatives pass medical marijuana bill

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Georgia State Capitol Georgia State Capitol
ATLANTA, Ga. - The Georgia House of Representatives passed a bill Monday allowing marijuana to be used for certain medical conditions, and some local families are optimistic about the bill being passed into law.

House Bill 885, also known as "Haleigh's Hope Act," would allow academic institutions to distribute medical cannabis to those suffering from specific medical conditions. The bill is named after Haleigh Cox, a young girl who suffers from a medical condition that causes severe seizures.

The cannabis oil is low in THC, and would be administered orally in a liquid form. The bill's sponsor Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) says it would not open the door to recreational use in the state.

The concern is how to obtain the oil, as there would have to be additional legislation to cultivate the marijuana plant in Georgia. It is currently illegal to transport it across state lines, but Allen says he's confident the problem will be solved in due time. "
I'll bet you dinner at Cheddar's," Allen told the House, "that by the time we come back in January there will have been some relaxation of regulations of transportation of cannabidol oil across state lines, so we ought to be ready for that."

Seth and Beth Brown have been following the debate closely. Their daughter Mary-Paige is 12, and her nocturnal seizures are down to once or twice a month, but with 11 pills a day, she says she wishes there was another option. "Other kids, they can stay up until 11," she says. "I have to get to sleep 8:30 or 9, and sometimes I'm really mad about that but I know they're just trying to protect me."

Some days are worse than others, but she and her family are hopeful as they look at cases around the country in which cannabis oil has helped tremendously. Her mother Beth says, "You've been through the entire list of anti-epileptic drugs, and still no control over those seizures, that's heart-breaking for families, it's devastating for that child and their brain development."

The Wilson family agrees. Their daughter Ava is a seven- year-old who has more than 300 seizures daily. News three spoke with the Wilson's in February, and they say they are desperate for anything that could help.

Chey Wilson, Ava's father, says, "You come to a point when epilepsy and the seizures are uncontrollable, that you have to decide how many seizures you can stand looking at daily versus how much do you want your child being either a zombie or asleep."

As the bill heads to the Senate, however, the families are feeling optimistic.

Beth Brown says, "I would like for [Mary-Paige] as well as every other child in the state of Georgia to be able to have that option."

The National Epilepsy Foundation has released a statement endorsing the use of medical marijuana. It calls for increased access and research of the plant across the nation.

A recent CBS poll shows that an overwhelming 86% of Americans support legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.

20 other states have already legalized medicinal marijuana. Meanwhile, Colorado and California are the only two states which allow recreational use of the drug.

14 other states are considering new medicinal marijuana laws this year, and 17 states, including Alabama, are considering plans that would regulate marijuana much like alcohol.

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