Georgia takes step toward legalizing form of medical marijuana - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Georgia takes step toward legalizing form of medical marijuana

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COLUMBUS, Ga. - Governor Deal announced a pilot program Tuesday afternoon aimed at helping children with seizures get access to cannabis oil, which has been used in other states to treat seizures. During this year’s legislative session, Georgia lawmakers were unable to pass a bill that would allow families to access the product.

Chey and Jill Wilson were getting ready to move from Columbus to Colorado to seek treatment for their daughter Ava. The seven-year-old has a difficult-to-treat form of epilepsy, and suffers anywhere from 300 to 500 seizures a day. After Deal's announcement, they're taking another look at their options.

“I'm so thankful that Governor Deal actually stepped forward and showed some leadership and is going to make things happen,” said Chey Wilson.

Deal has consulted with the federal Food and Drug Administration on how the state can begin legal clinical trials with cannabis oil products at Georgia Regents University Augusta.

“So far we have identified two tracks worthy of pursuit,” Deal said. “Our most promising solution involves pairing GRU with a private pharmaceutical company that has developed a purified liquid cannabinoid currently in the FDA testing phase. The product contains no THC, which is the component in marijuana that intoxicates a user. The university would create a well-designed trial for children with epileptic disorders, and in order to serve as many children as we can, we would like to pursue a statewide investigational new drug program through a multicenter study that would allow GRU to partner with other research facilities across the state. We have talked with the pharmaceutical company to gauge interest, and the company is willing to continue those initial talks.

Deal says neither option he presented Tuesday will mean quick relief, but could push federal officials toward faster approval of the trials. State Senator Josh McKoon has been one of the biggest supporters of medical marijuana. He says Deal's plan is a move in the right direction, but may take some time.

“I think the Governor today, is doing everything he can within the limits of his executive authority to do and the truth is that there are some things that require legislation action,” said McKoon.

The Wilsons say they're not sure if they'll be able to wait until next year's legislative session.

“Ava can't wait another year,” said Jill Wilson. “She and other children are just going to progressively get worse. The medications don't help; the diets don't help, so if we can't have this option then our kids are just going to go downhill.”

They're hoping, somehow, the process will be quick. Otherwise, they may have to revisit those plans to move.

The Wilson’s have plans to meet with Allen Peake, the Macon representative who sponsored the bill that failed to pass in the Georgia legislative session, this weekend to further the discussion on cannabis oil in Georgia.. They say they're extremely thankful for the work Representative Peake has done and credit him and Governor Deal for giving their daughter a chance at treatment.

There is little scientific research on cannabis oil, but families with children suffering from epilepsy say the product has helped treat children in states where it's legal, such as Colorado.

David Hurst

David Hurst, a graduate of the Univ. of Georgia, focuses on how your tax dollars are being spent.
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