Bill to legalize medical marijuana hits snag in committee

by: Lori Geary Updated:

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ATLANTA —

A push to legalize medical marijuana in Georgia may have hit a snag, but families who support the bill though are far from giving up.
 
One powerful critic of the current medical marijuana bill told Channel 2’s Lori Geary she has some real concerns about the safety of cannabis oil. It's not FDA approved and could actually hurt young patients over time.
 
Supporters of the bill said they remain hopeful the bill will move forward.
 
“Most of these kids having seizures, like my son Hawk, don't have other options,” said parent Katie Harrison.
 
Katie and her husband John wheeled their 15-month-old son, Hawk, through the halls of the state Capitol, hoping to win over legislators who still have concerns about a medical marijuana bill stalled in a House committee.
 
“What you have is science versus emotion. There is no proof,” said Republican State Rep. Sharon Cooper, who chairs the committee hearing the bill.
 
Copper says although the cannabis oil, known as Charlotte's Web in Colorado, where it's legal, is showing promise in kids with severe seizure disorders, there's been no FDA clinical trials.
 
She says hospitals in Georgia wouldn't touch it for fear of losing their federal funding.  
 
“There's a reason for animal trials. Otherwise, you're using children as guinea pigs,” Cooper said.  
 
Cooper said she's passionate on the issue because she used to teach pediatric nursing. She said there's a British company already producing medical marijuana approved for clinical trials. 
 
“I'm hoping we will be able to get what is already FDA-approved and start that into clinical trials and try to help these families,” Cooper said.
 
But the families say they may not be able to wait that long, wondering what happens if their child gets the placebo.
 
“We won't stay here and watch nothing work and if it doesn't, we have to move,” said Katie Harrison.
 
“It doesn't matter if it's a seizure disorder or they scrape their knee. You're going to fight for them, especially as a dad.  All men know we want to fix things, this is one thing I can't fix, but this is a way I can fight for him,” said John Harrison.  
 
Supporters of the bill gained some national ammunition Thursday.
 
The Epilepsy Foundation came out in favor of medical marijuana, saying if patients and doctors feel the benefits outweigh the risks, and that families need to have that legal option now.