In recent years, thousands of patients suffering from different debilitating medical conditions have been forced to leave their homes in order to obtain safe, reliable access to medical marijuana in states where it has been legalized, like Colorado and California.
Now, after months of living as a Colorado medical marijuana refugee, one young girl and her mother have been able to return home to Georgia to be reunited with their family.
Victoria Lowe (photo above) was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease, a chronic disorder that affects the cellular machinery responsible for producing more than 90 percent of energy in body cells. The presentation of the disease is often highly variable from one patient to the next. In Victoria’s case, it manifests in the form of chronic seizures—from 50 to 100 episodes a day, according to her mother, Corey Lowe.
Prior to the recent passage of the very limited medical marijuana legislation in Georgia, Corey had taken Victoria to Colorado to attain cannabis oil to treat her seizures. Corey’s decision to move to Colorado was not easy, nor was cannabis her first choice among therapy options for her daughter.
In Georgia, Victoria had tried numerous drugs, but none of them reduced the quantity and frequency of her seizures. When Corey finally moved to Colorado to seek relief for Victoria, it came at the cost of a normal family life. Corey explained:
“I missed their first day of school,” she said of her other kids, “and I missed my son’s birthday, our anniversary, my husband’s birthday.”
A law passed in April allows Victoria and other Georgia citizens who suffer from a qualifying medical condition to legally use low-THC cannabis oil in their home state. Governor Nathan Deal issued temporary permits to a handful of patients to allow them to legally possess 20 ounces of cannabis oil while the details of the state system to regulate medical cannabis are being settled. Victoria was one of the first patients to receive a temporary cannabis permit from the governor (photo below).
After months living in Colorado and witnessing the immense reduction in the number of seizures her daughter endured, Corey returned to Georgia to advocate for access to cannabis for Victoria and other Georgia citizens. She points to the improvement in Victoria, who now has entire days without a seizure, as evidence for the need for legal medical cannabis.
In addition to mitochondrial disease, the list of conditions that may be treated with cannabis oil in Georgia includes Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, sickle cell disease, seizure disorder, cancer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
The restrictive law in Georgia does not address cannabis cultivation or the sale of medical marijuana, something Corey Lowe will continue to push for. She says of her advocacy thus far, “To have people reach out to me and say thank you I have my life back you know and I’ve never met them, it makes it all worth it.”