As state medical marijuana legalization laws gain ground across the country, Georgia parents are lobbying for action in advance of the 2014 legislative session, which will begin next week.
Georgia parents with children who suffer from seizure disorders have heard reports of children with similar afflictions finding greater relief from medical marijuana in edible or oil form than from any other medication. In states like California and Colorado, medical marijuana is some kids'— and parents'— saving grace.
"These kids in Colorado are not getting high, they're taking it in an oil format, they're not smoking it. It's basically safer than any medicine we can prescribe our children today," parent Blaine Cloud told WBS-TV.
Cloud's 8-year-old daughter Alaina suffers from Dravet syndrome, the same rare genetic disorder that afflicts the daughter of a New Jersey couple who was forced to move to Colorado to seek treatment.
Patients with Dravet system can experience hundreds of seizures per day. There is no cure for the disease, and medicines to control the symptoms are often ineffective after a period of time, or have negative side effects.
On the other hand, when taken in a low-dosage oil or butter form medical marijuana can reduce the seizures to just one a day, with none of the major side effects of other, less effective drugs.
"We want to get the message out that people shouldn't be scared about this, that it's going to change our state. These aren't crazy parents; we all are just looking for something to help our children," Alaina’s mother, Shannon Cloud, told the TV channel.
Another parents, Corey Lowe, said her 12-year-old daughter Victoria is on 13 medications to control her seizures from a different disease, but nothing works. She even has a service dog to alert her parents when the seizures occur.
The Georgia moms and dads, who started a Facebook group for their cause, anticipate an uphill battle in the legislature since all the lawmakers are up for re-election, and hence unlikely to support any controversial laws. Still, they hope that the lawmakers will see that they are only trying to give their children relief from the daily horror of their chronic conditions.
"I just wonder what the possibilities are with her. If you can just stop her seizures can she finally stop and say 'I love you,'" Lowe said of her daughter.
In a debate over legalizing medical marijuana on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution blog, CARE Project founder James Bell called Georgia’s current marijuana laws “draconian,” and cited the shift in attitude taking place across the country as a reason why Georgia lawmakers should also reconsider.