State Rep. Allen Peake, a Republican from Macon, has been working towards helping Georgia residents with debilitating conditions get access to medication derived from marijuana. He is responsible for pushing through the bill legalizing medical oil made from cannabidiol (CBD), a component in marijuana, so long as it has less than 5 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the ingredient known to cause the “high”. Georgia medical marijuana laws allow 8t seizure conditions including Crohn’s disease, mitochondrial disease, severe or end-stage ALS, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, sickle cell disease, and cancer to be treated using oil. The current law prohibits cultivation, processing, and distribution of all cannabis, so patients must order medication by mail from other states.
The Civil Disobedience Campaign
Unfortunately many conditions were excluded from the list of treatable disorders and, for some, the THC levels allowed are too low to treat the disorder. Parents of children with autism and other non-approved medical conditions have created a “civil disobedience” campaign in the hopes of pushing legislators to move forward so they can help their children. This generally means patients or parents of patients with non-approved conditions are telling their local law enforcement office that they are using the oil and why. So far no one has been cited or arrested over the campaign.
One woman, Jennifer Conforti, mother of a 5-year-old autistic girl, was desperate to help her daughter deal with violent rage and severe biting; an effect of her autism. After watching her raging daughter be carried out of school by 3 teachers, Conforti felt desperate. She says, “I was still worried that the Department of Family Services would take my daughter away. I was still worried the sheriff would show up at my door and arrest me. But after I saw her teachers walking her out like that, that was it. I didn’t care anymore. I ended up giving her her first dose and weaning her off her seizure meds and, I’m telling you, the raging stopped; completely stopped.”
Conforti says that she conducted extensive research and experimentation on which dose best helped her daughter and found that a much higher level of THC was needed in the oil. “For Abby, the best ratio or component mixture is at least 70 to 75 percent combination of THCa (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) and THC,” she said. “She has a neurological issue in her brain and the THCa and THC help to calm those nerve synapses so her brain can calm down and perform better.”
Expanding Georgia Medical Marijuana Laws
Peake is now working on expanding the Georgia medical marijuana laws to include more conditions like autism and remove the limit on THC levels. He is also working towards in-state cultivation, processing, and distribution of the medication. According to polls more than 70 percent of Georgia residents want to expand and increase accessibility.
Delegates of the Third District republican Convention voted with overwhelming support for the expansion last weekend. Rep. Dale Jackson, Third District chairman for the Georgia Republican Party, said there were about 200 delegates present at the convention and he only saw approximately 3 ‘no’ votes.
A Voice for Anti-Legalization
A group of law enforcement and anti-drug groups have created a coalition called “Let’s Be Clear Georgia” to try and stop the legalization of medication. They are distributing prohibition propaganda saying there is not enough scientific evidence to legalize. They warn that approving the expansion will open the door for Georgia to become the next state to legalize marijuana, like Colorado. Despite the medical benefits provided to millions of patients across America and clear evidence indicating that marijuana use is safer and healthier than alcohol, the group live in fear of legalizing the plant.
Patients and parents now await the response of the Senate to see if they will have access to the medication they need to treat themselves or loved ones from suffering from debilitating conditions. Bills pertaining to medical marijuana legalization have stalled at the Senate in the past so the future of Georgia’s medical marijuana laws remains a matter of deep speculation.