Cherokee County mom advocating for medical marijuana in Georgia
by Joshua Sharpe
January 11, 2014 12:21 AM | 4670 views | 7 7 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Corey Lowe is trying to sway legislators to legalize medical marijuana in Georgia for her daughter, Victoria, who suffers from seizures caused by mitochondrial disease. ‘I’m always trying to find something to help her.’ Lowe said. ‘We’re not some potheads … trying to get our daughter stoned.’ Above: Corey reads a book to her daughter with the company of Choco, the family’s trained seizure dog. <br>Staff/Todd Hull
Corey Lowe is trying to sway legislators to legalize medical marijuana in Georgia for her daughter, Victoria, who suffers from seizures caused by mitochondrial disease. ‘I’m always trying to find something to help her.’ Lowe said. ‘We’re not some potheads … trying to get our daughter stoned.’ Above: Corey reads a book to her daughter with the company of Choco, the family’s trained seizure dog.
Staff/Todd Hull
HOLLY SPRINGS — Corey Lowe doesn’t know if medical marijuana can help her daughter, but as a mother she said she is willing to fight for a chance to make her child’s life better — no matter how long that life may be.

Lowe, 35, of Holly Springs, is pushing state lawmakers in 2014 to legalize medical use of the drug in hopes it might help her 12-year-old daughter Victoria, who has chronic seizures and cannot speak because of development issues.

“This may or may not work, and all I’m asking is to have the opportunity to try it,” Lowe said Friday. “I’m always trying to find something to help her. We’re not some potheads … trying to get our daughter stoned.”

Victoria, a Hasty Elementary School student, was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease at an early age. Lowe said doctors told her and her husband, Jason, to do their best to make their child’s life as good as possible, because she probably wouldn’t live to be an adult.

That’s easier said than done, her mother said.

Victoria has had seizures for nearly her entire life. They come

suddenly and she sometimes has 50 times a day, Lowe said. As a result, Lowe believes her daughter’s brain has been stalled in development, making her life more closely resemble that of a toddler.

Answers, though, have been slim for Victoria’s parents about exactly why she is the way she is. Lowe said she isn’t even sure if the diagnosis was correct, as some parts of Victoria’s condition have puzzled doctors.

At 12, Victoria still wears diapers and needs help to do the simplest tasks. She fights when her mother tries to make her put on shoes or a jacket, because she can’t stand the feeling. She has to be picked up from school many days, because her teachers can’t handle the seizures. She relies on a service dog to bark when she has a seizure if she’s away from people.

And although she has never spoken a word in her entire life, Lowe said Victoria has only been able to learn two signs in sign language.

“She’s never picked up on sign language,” her mother said. “You just kind of have to know her needs and wants. You’ve got to be intuitive.”

If Victoria wants something, Lowe said she points and grabs it. If she doesn’t want it, she pushes it away.

“She has no quality of life,” said Lowe, who has five other children.

But after doing research about what other families have seen through the use of medical marijuana in children like Victoria, Lowe believes the drug might at least make her daughter’s life more bearable.

Coveted results

In recent months, Lowe has become more and more interested in the potential of marijuana used as medicine.

She’s spent a great deal of time reading up on the pros and cons and talking with other families who are also intrigued by the idea.

Then she met Aaron Klepinger.

Klepinger moved his family to Colorado from Marietta in late 2013 on a leap of faith that the medical marijuana available there could somehow help his son Hunter. Eight-year-old Hunter also has chronic seizures and, like Victoria, leads the life of a much younger child because of development issues.

“He’s had seizures nearly every day for eight years,” Klepinger said Friday, adding that Hunter is on the development level of a 1-month-old. “He’s severely, severely affected.”

But after six weeks of taking a regimen of oil extracted from marijuana, Klepinger said his son’s life has changed.

“In that six weeks, we had a period of six consecutive days with no seizures, which has never happened in his life,” said Klepinger, 36, who is hoping to move back to Georgia when the drug is allowed for medical use. “He’s much more aware of his surroundings and able to focus. He holds eye contact much better now, significantly better. Little things to use are huge, because he’s so severely affected.”

Lowe looks at children like Hunter and she wants what they have for Victoria.

“I want her to stop having seizures and begin to talk and say ‘Mom, I want cereal,’ or ‘Mom, I love you,’” she said. “I see story after story after story that I’m following and I (wonder) what are we missing out on here? Why do I have to uproot my entire family and move to Colorado? We have six kids who are established.”

Lobbying for change

Twenty states and the District of Columbia have so far allowed medical marijuana. Lowe doesn’t see why Georgia can’t become the next state on the list during the 2014 legislative session.

She and other parents have joined together in a statewide advocacy group called Americans for Safe Access Georgia, which they hope will get the state’s lawmakers to consider their cause.

Some legislators appear to at least be listening.

House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) told Atlanta media this week that he had concerns about making the drug available for medical use in Georgia, but he was open to considering it. He added that politics needed to be taken out of the discussion and facts should be considered.

State Rep. Scot Turner (R-Holly Springs) said he’d be willing to be a part of the conversation.

“I’ll echo what the speaker said,” Turner said Friday. “I think we should at least talk about it and look at the facts of the potential benefit, and obviously take a look at the downside as well.”

Turner said he thought lawmakers could possibly take up the issue for discussion during the 2014 session.

Lowe said she’s heard from several others who are open to the possibility of changing Georgia’s stance on medical marijuana. If that happens, she hopes Victoria could have a chance at something close to a normal life.

“I think that everything’s coming out in due time. More and more people, who are educating themselves and are saying ‘Hey, we never looked at this before,’ are getting on board,” she said. “I think that it can get passed this year if we keep the momentum and keep educating people.”

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Lib in Cobb
January 12, 2014
Hell will freeze over before the very red state of GA would approve the medical use of weed, no matter the need. The family in question would have to move to CA or CO.

The active ingredient in weed, THC, which generates the high is NOT present in medical grade weed.

God luck to this family.

I will suggest that those who disagree with my statement watch the Dr. Sanja Gupta CNN special on the medical use of marijuana. That report can be found on you tube. Dr. Gupta changed his mind about the medical use of marijuana. Western medicine doesn't have all of the answers. Paul Broun has proved that point many times.
January 13, 2014
Please check your facts. The extract oil being used to treat Dravets patients contains a ratio of 50:1 CBD:THC, along with the full range of plant compounds found in the hybridized "Charlotte's Web" cultivar grown by the Stanley brothers in CO. THC is not a dangerous drug, it is one of many cannabinoids found in the cannabis sativa L. species of plant which have all been shown to have medically therapeutic benefits. Many of the therapeutic benefits from cannabis are directly derived from the THC content.
Cali Medi Grower
January 24, 2014
You are very ignorant, THC is present all strains of medical marijuana. Cbd is the component that gets rid of seizures. All strains of medical marijuana contain thc with the exception of charlottes web, a strain with around 17% cbd and around 2% thc.
Local Resident
January 11, 2014
I hope that Georgia never legalizes any use of marijuana. As a resident of this great state, I will encourage my representatives to not support any such effort.

My advice to someone who wants access to this terrible drug is to move to another state or country where it is legal. As for Georgia, I want it to remain illegal here!!!

I believe that in time, the states that are making such drug use legal will experience severe consequences (addictions, increased crime, dui fatalities/injuries, etc.). Let's hope that Georgia residents are spared from bad consequences that result from poor decision making.
January 13, 2014
If your beliefs were true, those effects would have already been demonstrated during the 2 decades medical cannabis has been available in some states, or the 4 decades in which patients have been receiving medical cannabis from the federal government as part of the Compassionate IND program. It would have definitely been demonstrated in the 10,000 years people have been cultivating cannabis. However, 100 years of lies and prohibitionist propaganda have been proven false by the facts. Reality may be threatening to your comfortable beliefs, but it is undeniable.
Cobb MOM3
January 11, 2014
As a voter and parent, I would fully support allowing marijuana to be legal for medicinal purposes. It needs to be researched, tested, manufactured, dispensed, and controlled like any other legal drug. Prescriptions should be written and filled in pharmacies. What's the big deal about marijuana when it comes to using it for medicinal purposes. Don't many medicines start from a plant base? Nothing should be off limits to medical research and use provided it is done with proper research.
January 13, 2014
In comparison to the overwhelming majority of "pharmaceutical" drugs, the plant cannabis is much safer. The majority of modern pharmaceutical are not plant sourced, but are synthetic chemical compounds created entirely in laboratories. The two FDA approved synthetic cannabinoids nabilone and dronabinol are ineffective. Cannabis is a beneficial plant, not a dangerous "drug", and possession, cultivation and consumption on private property for any reason are unalienable human rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Research the facts.
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