Corey Lowe, of Holly Springs, and Wendi Scheck, of Ball Ground, this week worked to put pressure on senators to vote for House Bill 885, which would allow non-psychoactive cannabis oil to be used in clinical trials for seizure patients.
The bill is expected to enter Senate committee hearings Monday, officials said.
Like the other parents in the loosely organized “Mommy Lobby,” which has been rallying for the Legislature to allow medicinal use of the drug, Lowe and Scheck say their fight is one for their children’s health. Lowe’s daughter, Victoria, 12, and Scheck’s son, Hudson, 4, both have chronic seizures that have stalled their development and ruled their lives.
Lowe says some lawmakers in the Senate have heard the families’ cries and expressed support of House Bill 885 since it passed out of the House on Monday with nearly unanimous approval and was sent to the other chamber.
A few other lawmakers have been worried the bill could be a gateway to allowing recreational use of marijuana, but both mothers say those fears aren’t necessary.
“This is not a back door to allow recreational use in any shape or form,” said Lowe, who has been among the most vocal parents regularly turning out to the Capitol during this year’s session. “It’s not an option, it’s not on the table.”
Scheck said she is in no way pushing for recreational use.
“The problem with it is a lot of people misunderstand,” she said.
Both mothers clarified that the oil being considered is non-psychoactive, meaning it doesn’t intoxicate the user.
Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), who authored the bill, has also been clear about the purpose of the bill, which, as written, would allow academic medical institutions to cultivate and give the oil in clinical trials but would not require any institution to run such a program.
Initially, Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White) was among those opposed to the bill, but he said he has reconsidered.
“I have changed my position on that the more I’ve become educated,” Thompson said Wednesday. Barring any unforeseen changes to the bill, Thompson said he will be in favor of the measure.
The turning point came, Thompson says, when he spoke with families pushing for the drug to help their children and he began to understand that the oil they hope to use doesn’t intoxicate the user.
“When you sit and look at the child and you look at the family saying ‘Give us some hope,’ it’s pretty hard,” he said. “(And) it’s not marijuana. It’s a cannabis oil.”
Thompson’s fellow senator representing Cherokee County, Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta), said he hasn’t yet made up his mind on whether to support the bill yet.
“I do have some concern that it’s being rushed and not a lot of research has been done,” Beach said Thursday, adding medical professionals have also expressed concerns about research and the unknown long-term results of the drug. “I’m trying to make a rational decision with my head … I want to help the kids.”
Beach made it clear he hadn’t yet had time to read through the bill.
Sen. John Albers (R-Alpharetta), who represents a small part of Cherokee County, could not be reached for comment.
Parents like Lowe and Scheck are hopeful that use of the cannabis oil could help their children without having to uproot their families and move to Colorado, where others have recently flocked to take advantage of the state’s stance on the drug.
“Speaking with a lot of parents in Colorado …so many kids have had great results and no side effects,” Scheck said, adding that she wants such results for her son Hudson. “This could be it for him.”