State lawmakers hear benefits of medical marijuana

Members of a joint legislative study committee on medical marijuana held their first of five public hearings that could lead to new legislation.

Paige Figi came to the Capitol from Colorado to speak on the benefits of cannabidiol to treat seizure disorders.  Her 7-year-old daughter Charlotte was the test model for the dietary supplement that became known as Charlotte’s Web.

“The efficacy on Charlotte was instantaneous and dramatic... she went from her 1,200 monthly seizures down to one or two seizures and she remains there two-and-a-half years later,” she says.

Now 400 children are on the treatment and 3,500 more will be added this fall.  Currently there’s a waiting list of 11,000.

Figi says the so-called “medical refugees” are leaving their homes and family members behind to come to Colorado in order to seek treatment for their sick children when states like Georgia could be passing their own laws to legalize it.

“These are kids that dying waiting for bills to pass,” she told the committee.

Corey Lowe just returned to her Holly Springs home after spending the summer in Colorado with her 12-year-old daughter Victoria who suffers from mitochondrial disease.

She tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish her daughter only had 15 seizures the entire time they were there, but has had that many in one day since they’ve been back.

While there, Lowe says Victoria could talk, give her mother hugs, and show emotion.

“Being out there and putting your child on this medicine is literally like meeting your child for the first time,” she says.  “I’ve been her mother for 12 years and she’s never been able to reciprocate affection.”

But Lowe says the stress of being away from her husband and two sons back home was too much.  She says the only hope for Victoria now is for Georgia to legalize the treatment here.

Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) is hopeful that will happen during next year’s legislative session.

“I believe the temperature and the mood is right now,” he says.  “I believe my colleagues and I believe the Governor is ready to be able to say ‘let’s find a solution that does provide a safe, effective solution for our citizens’.”

Among those solutions, he says, may be for the state to cultivate its own marijuana under highly regulated conditions.  Then, only those with specific medical conditions would be able to use it.

The committee’s next hearing will be held Sept. 10 at Mercer University in Macon.

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