Four-year old Georgia boy 'different child' on cannabis oil
BROOKHAVEN, Ga. - Cannabis oil has become part of Georgia mom Julianne Martin's new routine.
Three times a day, the Brookhaven mother of two draws a small amount of low-THC oil into a syringe and then brings it to her 4-year old son Alex, who knows what to do.
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He opens his mouth, and she squirts the oil blend "Haleigh's Hope," shipped to Georgia from Colorado, into his mouth.
Alex has been diagnosed with mitochondrial disease, autism and epilepsy.
When he was about 15 months old, he began having seizures, which medication initially helped control.
"But, ultimately, in June, we hit a roadblock," says Julianne Martin.
The seizures came back.
"He was maxed out on his medications, says Martin. "He was still seizing. And as he was seizing, he was becoming more fearful. He was beginning to recognize he was seizing."
Martin says Alex's neurologist encouraged her to apply for a Low THC Oil Registration card.
About 1,300 Georgians, who meet certain medical criteria, are on the registry.
The current law, passed in 2015, allows patients with eight medical conditions, including epilepsy, late-stage Parkinson's Disease and end-stage cancer to legally possess up to 20 fluid ounces of a low-THC cannabis, or CBD, oil derived from marijuana plants.
The maximum potency allowed in Georgia is 5% THC.
Alex in on .3% potency.
"If you ask him, as a 4-year old, 'This is your oil, is it helping?' his answer is yes," says Martin. "He knows it's helping."
But Virginia Galloway, Regional Field Director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, has serious reservations about medical marijuana.
She says it's untested, and parents who are dosing their children with the low THC oil have no idea how it could affect their young brains long term.
"What happens is we hear from parents who it helps their children," Galloway says. "What we don't hear from is parents where it hurts their children. And they're embarrassed, and they don't want to come forward and say, 'I gave this to my kid and it made their seizures worse.'"
But, Julianne Martin says the cannabis oil quickly helped get Alex's seizures back under control.
"Within the first week, Alexander went from 2 to 3 days of seizure to 1 day," she says. "And with that one day, it was one seizure. Within two weeks, he was seizure-free."
Now, a compromise bill making its way through the Georgia Legislature could expand Georgia's medical marijuana program to include 6 more diagnoses, among them autism, AIDS, Tourette's syndrome, Alzheimer's disease and patients enrolled in hospice care programs.
Galloway believes the expansion puts patients on a slippery slope.
"I'm not tying their hands, the federal government has already done that," Galloway says. "They have scientists and doctors that work with them to determine this is a Schedule I drug that has no proven medical use. And it is dangerous. It is addictive. That can hurt you, can hurt the brain.""
But Julianne Martin has no doubts the oil is helping Alex.
"I can tell you, my child has been on this since August, and I see a very different child in front of me," Martin says. "I see a child who is speaking more. I see a child who is engaging more. I see a child who has wonderful things in front of him."
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