Letter to the Editor: Mom of Child with Seizures Challenges Sheriff on Cannabis Oil

March 7, 2019

Editor's Note: On March 5, the Georgia Legislature passed House Bill 324, which would legalize the cultivation and harvesting of cannabis and hemp products to produce a low-THC oil for medical use in the state. Dade County Sheriff Ray Cross went on television with other northwest Georgia sheriffs to speak out against HB 324, in what seemed more a generic law enforcement stand against drugs in general than a specific indictment of the oil--confusingly, the sheriffs also signed a statement saying they supported use of the oil for "severe" seizures in children but opposed its "expansion to include other medical conditions." 

 

This letter is from a Dalton mother with a special-needs child, who asked that this Dade newspaper publish her letter since the Dade sheriff was one of the opposing lawmen. You can read the sheriffs' declaration, signed by Sheriff Cross; it is attached below the letter.

 

​My name is Sheli Gilley and I’m the mother of a 12-year-old special-needs daughter, Zoe, who has Lennox Gastaut Syndrome and CDKL5. She has suffered from up to 100 debilitating seizures a day since she was six weeks old.

 

She has been on over 20 different seizure medications; they all failed in controlling her seizures. Zoe was in status epilepsy and in a coma for 2.5 weeks.

 

Since Zoe started cannabis oil, she was able to wean off of all four seizure medications and is down to less than 10 seizures a day. Without the side effects from the seizure medications, there has been a remarkable improvement in her cognitive and physical abilities.

 

Sarah Callaway is the mother of Graylynn who was born with a brain malformation called Lobar Holoprosencephaly. Graylynn was given less than one month to live but has defied all odds and will be turning 6 this August.

 

She has been having seizures off and on since she was 3 months old, and has been treated with approximately eight different seizure medications. In June 2018 Graylynn was unresponsive in the PICU for seven days due to a overdose of Depakote.

 

She has been on cannabis oil since it was legal in the state of Georgia. She is currently on two seizure medications with cannabis oil and has been seizure free since July 2018. Since being on cannabis oil Graylynn now laughs, says several words and has likes and dislikes.

 

These are just a few of the thousands of families in Georgia whose lives have been transformed with cannabis oils.

 

I would also like to address some of the comments made by the Sheriff's departments; They say they supported children with seizures using cannabis oil, but no one else. So adults with seizures don't matter? What about the thousands of people suffering with other debilitating conditions? Why is one person’s suffering more or less important than another?

 

They think we are rushing to get this done. The original possession-only bill was passed in 2015 and patients have been waiting four years for access. There was a study committee last fall specifically to get input on this and figure out whether it was necessary and how to move forward. Many sheriffs did participate in that process so this bill is certainly not a surprise. Patients are dying so why should this go any slower than it already has?

They are concerned that it doesn't say how the control board and oversight board will be funded. The license/application fees will cover that, but it can't be stated in the bill because earmarking of funds is not permitted.

 

(Photo) Dade Sheriff Ray Cross (left) among his fellow sheriffs speaking out against HB 324 on television this week.)

 

They are questioning why companies would make such a big investment for only 8,000 patients and why having 60 retail locations and home delivery is necessary. There are a lot more than 8,000 patients that would register if they actually had a way to obtain the oil. With 60 retail locations, there will still be over 100 counties in Georgia that do not have a single location for patients to get the medicine! Many patients do not have the ability to drive to their local CVS due to their health condition and lack of caregiver support, let alone drive an hour or more to get to a retail location. This is why they can get prescriptions meds delivered to their homes, so we need to ensure that they have the same level of convenience for cannabis oil as well.

 

They claim that an individual coming to a retail location does not have to present their card to gain entrance. That is absolutely false. The bill clearly states that only registered cardholders can enter the retail facility.

 

They are upset that the Department of Agriculture is prohibited from regulation. That was done intentionally because the department has specifically asked to be left out of regulation as long as it is still federally illegal. Other states have taken the same approach.

 

They complained that the pharmacy board is not involved in the oversight. The reality is that most pharmacists would never want to be involved since their pharmacy license prohibits dispensing Schedule 1 substances.

 

They do not like the fact that there is no opt in or opt out for local government. One of the required items to submit an application for a facility is a letter from a local government entity stating that they are supportive of the intent of that company to locate in their area. If a city or county does not want a medical cannabis facility in their area there is nothing to prevent them from stopping it at the local level.

 

They claim that there is no limit to how many outlets can be located in any given geographical location, for fear of concentration near states lines which may draw patients from other states. That is just not going to happen because in order to obtain a Low THC Oil Registry card, a patient MUST be a Georgia resident and obtain the card from a Georgia-licensed physician.

 

They feel that products need to be better defined with strict limitations. Our law is already very limited since the products cannot contain more than 5 percent THC and the only delivery method is oil.

 

We need sheriffs to focus on enforcing the laws, not trying to make the laws!

--Sheli Marie Gilley

sjgilley827@yahoo.com

 

Editor's Note: Here is a link to the bill itself, at the Georgia Legislature website: 

http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20192020/HB/324

 

And here is the two-page statement by the sheriffs' group, signed by Dade's Sheriff Cross.  

 

 

 

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