GA officials look for other ways to allow cannabis oil
Georgia parents and some top state officials are still fighting for a way to get medical marijuana into the state, despite legislation failing on the last day of this year's general assembly.
Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle is urging district attorneys not to prosecute parents who bring cannabis oil into Georgia from other states in order to treat their children's seizure disorders.
Cannabis oil comes from the same plant as marijuana, but it isn't smoked and doesn't get you high. It's put in feeding tubes or on food and pacifiers to treat children who suffer from debilitating seizure disorders.
Some Georgia families are moving to states like Colorado, where it's legal, to get it. But local parents and state leaders say that's not an option for everybody so they're looking at other ways around it.
"It's heartbreaking that I just don't live in the right state to get the help for my daughter that she needs," Sheli Gilley said.
Dalton mom Sheli Gilley says life is a constant struggle for her 7-year-old daughter Zoe who suffers from up to 15 clusters of seizures every day. She's tried dozens of different medications, but still no improvement.
"We have to do liver checks all the time to make sure her liver has not shut down," Sheli said.
She and Zoe's doctors say based on the success of cannabis oil in other kids like her, there's a good chance it could change her life for the better. But, the bill to legalize it in Georgia was struck down on the last day of the legislature. It had received overwhelming support from lawmakers until an autism bill regarding insurance coverage was attached to it. Supporters think that's why it failed.
"I felt like we were so close, yet so far away," she said.
This week, the lieutenant governor put the call out to district attorneys not to prosecute families who go to other states where cannabis oil is legal and bring it back to Georgia to treat their children's medical problems. Sheli fears it's still too risky.
"Even if the DA doesn't prosecute us as parents, there's no protection against DFCS taking our children away, so that's a great concern," Sheli said.
She and other local moms are shifting their efforts to the federal level.
"I don't know that there's anything left that the state can do," she said.
They're pushing for marijuana to be removed from the Drug Enforcement Agency's schedule of drugs. It's something she never imagined herself doing, but says now there's no stopping her.
"The journey has been long and tiresome, but I will continue to fight for help for my daughter," Sheli said.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal pledged to look for options to help families like them. There is a petition circulating to remove marijuana as a schedule one drug on the DEA's list. It already has more than 100,000 signatures.