Pubdate: Fri, 28 Feb 2014
Source: Rome News-Tribune (GA)
Copyright: 2014 Rome News-Tribune
Author: Jeremy Stewart


The Bill Would Allow for Further Research into Treating Seizure Disorders.

Personal stories of frustration and lengthy deliberation led a state 
House committee to unanimously approve a bill that would permit 
medical marijuana to be grown and used in Georgia for treatment of 
severe seizure disorders.

Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, sits on the Health and Human Services 
Committee, which reviewed the legislation.

She said House Bill 885 provides a way to assist those who suffer 
from these complications - under tightly controlled restrictions.

"This is a new discovery actually, for how well it is working for 
people who suffer from these constant seizures," Dempsey said Thursday.

"As a committee, after much deliberation, we all felt that anything 
we could do to make the life of those with these seizure disorders 
better, then we should explore it."

The committee's passage Wednesday of the high-profile legislation 
paves the way for the full House to vote on the bill and, if 
approved, send it to the Senate for consideration.

Sponsored by Rep. Allen Peake, R- Macon, the bill underwent 
significant revisions to address concerns that the original bill 
would have unintentionally run afoul of federal law.

Peake championed the legislation, called Haleigh's Hope Act, after 
learning of the plight of 4year-old Haleigh Cox of Monroe County. The 
girl suffers from epilepsy and endures as many as 100 seizures a day.

For children with conditions similar to Haleigh's, a non-psychoactive 
marijuana derivative called cannabidiol has been effective in 
significantly reducing the seizures. For many children it has proved 
to be the only treatment providing relief, parents have said. "At the 
beginning, when the measure was first considered, there were 
certainly those who doubted it could be done," Dempsey said. "But 
when the personal stories started coming in, they spoke of having 
children in their own lives that this would have made their days so 
much better."

The bill would authorize the Georgia Composite Medical Board to 
oversee the use of marijuana derivatives in a nonsmoking delivery 
system, such as oil or pill form, for treatment of patients within an 
academic medical center research setting, under the direction of a physician.

The only conditions approved for treatment would be seizure 
disorders, glaucoma, and nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy 
and radiation.

Dempsey said 20 states have already passed similar legislation, while 
13 have pending similar legislation.

"This bill is the most restrictive out of the ones in all of the 
other states," Dempsey said. "It is very restrictive and will be 
tightly regulated."

Committee Chair Sharon Cooper, R- Marietta, cautioned during the 
hearing that even if HB 885 is enacted, the treatment will not be 
available overnight.

"This was not a quick process," Dempsey said. "We held several 
hearings, and there is no doubt there is more work to be done."

She said there are many steps to work though to get to the point 
where a physician can actually help parents make a decision on what 
is in the best interest for their child.

Morris News Service contributed to this report.
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