This week in Georgia, public health officials reported that nearly 200 patients now qualified for the state’s new medical marijuana registry. This also includes an increase in the number of doctors now approved to recommend cannabis oil as a treatment.
With such a large influx of patients coming to obtain this oil, the state Commission on Medical Cannabis continues to grapple with issues about the oil and how it works, including how to dose it or how to buy or obtain it. Doctors have also begun calling for training and distributing more information about how it works.
With concerns from residents eager to qualify for the state registry and doctors looking to get more information, the state Department of Public Health has partnered with the Georgia Composite Medical Board to develop the process for physicians who may be approached by patients seeking the oil for treatment.
Advocates are pushing the commission to recommend expanding the law, including developing guidelines related to cultivation and production in Georgia. Law enforcement officials are still skeptical about that, but manufacturers and growers who testified Wednesday said their priority in cultivating plants for the oil include safety, security measures, and testing that, among the top manufacturers, is often done by independent UL-listed laboratories.
“I think there’s just a need for additional information in the medical community of what exactly these products are,” said state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, the primary author of the new law, who has been among those willing to bridge the gap as needed. “We’ve made sure families that have wanted the product and properly registered with the state have gotten the product.”
While Rep. Peake’s ideology is spreading across districts in the US, there is still the need to get the word out about the struggle families face in accessing CBD oil. As part of the project titled “America’s Weed Rush“, produced by the Carnegie-Knight News21 initiative, a report has been recently released highlighting the trouble two families still face.
In room 716 of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, 12-year-old Hannah Pallas is motionless, but for an occasional turn of her head and the blink of her eyes, following a series of life-threatening seizures. On the same day, 5-year-old Sydney Michaels is down the hall in room 749, waiting to be discharged after 15 grand mal seizures within 36 hours.
Their mothers have known each other for years, though it’s a hapless coincidence caused by their daughters’ epilepsy that brings them to the pediatric unit on the same day.
The two women are part of a tenacious group of parents and national marijuana advocates demanding that politicians and state legislators legalize medical marijuana treatment for their children, whose medications have had limited success treating seizures and other severe conditions.
“This is something that needs to happen across the country so that every child who might need this would have access,” said Julie Michaels, Sydney’s mother and a member of Campaign for Compassion, which is pushing for comprehensive medical marijuana laws in Pennsylvania. “Why should the state lines be the factor as to whether my child can get help or not?”
Sydney is one of only a few hundred children around the country enrolled in a clinical trial to test the use of marijuana-based treatments for epilepsy. But Hannah is not.
“I’m watching my daughter die every day,” said Heather Shuker, Hannah’s mother. “Hannah has so many seizures, and every seizure could take her from me. I firmly believe that medical cannabis will help her.”
“There’s so much that I want for her right now that she just can’t do,” Michaels said about Sydney. “Just being able to go out and experience life, to be able to go out and play in the yard without fear of seizures starting.”