Wednesday Georgia lawmakers passed a bill allowing marijuana plant extract for patients with medical conditions.
For Genna Pease, a 10 year old girl from Ringgold, Georgia, who has epilepsy, every day tasks can be difficult.
“You can’t really remember where you are sometimes,” Genna explained.
“We could be studying for a spelling test Thursday night and could have a
seizure Friday morning and forget everything she learned,” her mom,
Christine Cates, said.
She and her mom are excited by the possibility of a new medicine to try to help her live a more normal life.
Genna usually suffers from several seizures a day. She has to take a handful of medications just to keep the seizures down.
“You look at the medication and there are usually several pages of side effects. It’s very hard to put your child on a medication that, you know, you don’t know if she’s going to have all those side effects,” Cates said.
The House of Representatives voted 160-1 in favor of the bill that means Genna could take cannabis oil in place of her medication.
“These people are able to wean off their epilepsy medication which means they don’t have to deal with the costs and side effects of these medications,” Rita Moore, the Education Services Director for the Epilepsy Foundation said.
Moore said studies show cannabis oil can reduce seizures or get rid of them altogether. She said many get the wrong idea when they hear the term “medical marijuana.”
“Cannabis oil is actually is an oil that is extracted from very specially grown marijuana plants what makes them special is they have a much lower THC content and THC is what give the high or the psychoactive effect,” Moore said.
For patients like Genna and her mom this bill could mean a normal life. But like many others, Christine said she is still curious on the effects of cannabis oil on the body.
“I am still, have a lot of questions about it, if it would be stabilized, if it would be in a lab and tested,” she said.
On top of making the product legal, the bill outlines how each patient will receive the drug.
A doctor who thinks their patients needs cannabis oil can write a letter of recommendation to the Department of Public Health. Once they approve the patient, they will then have a card that will give them immunity from prosecution.
The bill says patients with cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, ALS, Crohn’s disease and sickle cell anemia are eligible for the drug.
It will also fund research on the effects of cannabis oil.
Both the House and Senate have passed the bill. Governor Nathan Deal is expected to sign the bill on Friday.