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Posted: January 28, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Will Georgia say 'yes' to medical marijuana?

Can it be that the state Georgia might stop saying no to medical marijuana?

It seems that a few brave state lawmakers might at least be taking a look at the issue.

When I began writing a column for The Covington News, I wrote in my introduction to you, my readers: "I may sometimes write articles that you may disagree with or consider provocative."

Medical marijuana might well be one of those touchy subjects.

Last week, two Georgia families decided to move to Colorado so their ill children could get medical marijuana. One child was receiving the medication in oil form; I don’t have information on the other family. However, I will be looking for more information about these families, who had to move to another state to get a treatment for their children that is illegal here in Georgia.

Georgia is one of the states in which, in the past, people might never have spoken openly in support of medical marijuana. But recently, Sen. Josh McKoon (R) at least met with Sharon Ravert of Peachtree NORML and James Bell of GA CARE. Their two groups are playing leading roles in attempts to help Georgia residents with medical problems receive marijuana in any form.

In researching medical marijuana, I discovered it can be given in lozenge form to children, and it has brought relief to children suffering from cancer and other serious ailments.

Aimee Swartz wrote in The Scientist about 16-year-old Lauren Scott, who has been fighting undifferentiated soft tissue sarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer, for more than three years. After a brief period of remission Lauren’s cancer spread to her lungs, where a large, inoperable tumor makes daily activities and, sometimes, breathing difficult.

Lauren’s mother, Cherri Chiodo, says the medical cannabis that her daughter receives is an oil that is especially rich in cannabidiol (CBD), the chemical that contains much of marijuana’s medicinal properties, and low in THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive chemical that makes people "high." Chiodo notes the treatment also helps to stimulate Lauren’s appetite, along with reducing the "anxiety that comes from facing a terminal cancer."

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana for patients with qualifying medical conditions and chronic pain.

In my opinion, Georgia certainly has citizens who could benefit from medical marijuana. It could help to diminish the pain and anxiety that come with facing terminal cancer.

The question is: Are Georgians willing to take a look at the research and believe the findings?

No one is trying to push medical marijuana down anyone’s throat. However, I believe many Georgia residents take medications every day without understanding the bad side effects that come with those treatments.

Georgia might be one of the states where it will take decades to get behind a proven medication to help people who have deadly serious medical problems.

Marijuana provides greater pain relief when taken in pill form than when smoked, according to a study published last year.

As the sister of a man who has multiple sclerosis, I am grateful that my brother isn’t in the kind of pain that some MS patients suffer. I am happy to see that doctors are looking more closely at cannabis for patients seeking relief from pain. Some jurisdictions allow the medical use of the drug for this purpose.

Should Georgia follow other states and legalize marijuana? It’s a question we must all ponder for ourselves. I would say keep a open mind and read what the studies have concluded.

Dorothy Frazier Piedrahita welcomes reader comments. She can be reached at ufrazier2001@yahoo.com.

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