1. Problem Definition

Lighthouse

HB 885 shined light on what appeared to be a hopeless situation:

Georgia’s HB 885 a piece of legislation introduced to the Georgia House of Representatives on January 28, 2014. The bill would legalize the use of cannabis (cannabis sativa), colloquially known as marijuana for medical purposes. Cannabis is a flowing plant, native to South and Central Asia. The plant contains a series of psychoactive compounds known as cannadinoids such as cannabinol (CBN) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with the latter being the main psychoactive ingredient. A non psychoactive cannabinoid, that is delivered to the patient in a nonsmoking delivery system whether it be in the form of liquid, pill, vaporization, or injection or other delivery method that does not include smoking.

A major factor in the increase in public support for cannabis was the documentary “Weed” by Dr. Sanjay Gupta in 2013. The documentary opened the eyes and hearts of millions of viewers to the medicine called cannabis. In a nationwide poll done by Solutions of Media, 86%  of Americans  think doctors should be allowed to prescribe cannabis in case of serious condition. Meanwhile, 51% believe it should be completely legalized, including for recreation use. (Dutton, et al. 2014). This shift in attitudes toward cannabis comes after 20 states and the District of Columbia enacted medical marijuana laws, and Colorado and Washington voted to legalize and use it regardless of the federal ban (Marijuana Resource Center n.d.), and in fact, president Obama just recently released making it easier for cannabis businesses to open bank accounts in states where the drug is legalized (Dinan, 2014).

Groups most affected by the problem are small children suffering from life- long seizure disorders who do not respond well to regular drugs and where cannabis is the only option left. Presently in Georgia a number of families are seeking a change in the state’s medical marijuana law.  Ms. Gaunt the mother of Connor Gaunt her 22 month old boy who was born with  tuberous sclerosis complex, which causes benign tumors that led to seizures. Connor has undergone brain surgery and tried several different medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration, none of which have stopped the seizures and have stunted his development. The same is true for eight year old Hunter Klepinger, nine year old Katlin Clark, and four year old Haleigh Cox of Forsyth Georgia who suffers from up to 100 seizures daily. Their are many other families in the state of Georgia that are experiencing the same issue of not being able to receive the treatment necessary to reduce and possibly eliminate the seizures all together.

Over 200 families in Colorado are currently using “Charlotte’s Web”, a strand high cannabidiol (CBD, the most indicated medical component of the plant) and low in THC ( the component that causes a “high”). and 85% showing significant reduction of seizure activity. This strand was named for five year old Charlotte Figi, who had been suffering from a rare disorder called Dravet’s syndrome, which caused her to have as many as 300 grand mal seizures a week. Charlotte used a wheelchair, went into repeated cardiac arrest and could barely speak, but doctors were out of ideas for help.

Then as a last resort, her mother began calling medical marijuana shops. Two years later, Charlotte is largely seizure-free and able to walk, talk and feed herself after taking oil infused with a special pot strain. Her recovery inspired the Charlotte’s Web name for the marijuana strain she takes in oil form that is bred not to have THC the ingredient that make users high. Her story also spread on social media, and inspired an influx of families with seizure stricken children to Colorado from states that ban the drug.

This problem affects the community and people as a whole in that it has a negative impact on the daily operation of family lifestyles. Financial burdens are placed on individual families, employment can be lost, wages not sufficient to cover medical bills. The medical facilities are exhausted in providing proper care to the specific nature of the problem. The problem persists equally throughout Georgia along with other states where medical cannabis remains illegal. Nevertheless, even among states where medical cannabis is legal, there is conflict with federal laws involving cultivation and sourcing.

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