WXTX SPECIAL REPORT: Marijuana Mania - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

WXTX SPECIAL REPORT: Marijuana Mania

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(WXTX) -

Could marijuana be legalized in Georgia?

If you haven't heard, the recreational use of marijuana is suddenly a part of the national dialogue.

"This is the beginning of taking apart prohibition one state at a time," Rick Steves, who is on the Board of Directors of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. "That's how they did it 80 years ago against alcohol. That's how we're going to do it now against marijuana."

That's because voters in two states, Colorado and Washington, have made the sale and possession of marijuana legal.

You might say a longtime cash crop has come out of the shadows.

"Money does grow on trees, and it's called the cannabis plant," said Toni Fox, a marijuana retailer. 

Both states are projected to ring up huge profits, but not everyone's on board. Some are worried about the law's impact on young people.

"There will be so much damage to the children out there, it's going to be difficult to undo it," said Calvina Fay, a member of the Drug Free America Foundation.

Opponents point to the 23 states where possession of any amount of pot is still a crime. It will land you in jail in Alabama, Georgia and most of the South. Supporters tout the fact that over the next two years, five other states could put the recreational use of marijuana on the ballot.

But there is an effort underway to make medicinal marijuana available.

Prissy Rowe of Butler believes it would help her daughter Ashleigh.

"If there's something out there that could help her, I've got to try it," said Rowe. "She suffers from a rare devastating form of epilepsy called Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome. She's had seizures almost every day of her life."

Ashleigh Rowe was born with the disorder, although doctors didn't spot it originally. Her first seizure came at age two.

"It devastated me," Rowe said. "I was scared to death. Called 911, got her to the hospital. Now, she's been on seizure medications ever since, and not a single one of them have worked."   

That's where cannabidiol comes in, a marijuana byproduct said to reduce seizures. 

It's gotten the attention of at least two Georgia lawmakers, State Senator Josh McKoon of Columbus, who's proposed a commission to study medical marijuana, and State Representative Allen Peake of Macon, who's gone a step further, introducing a bill to legalize the use of medicinal marijuana for specific purposes.

He was influenced by the family of a young girl in Monroe County, who like Ashleigh is subject to seizures.   

"The medicine that we're looking for is not going to make her high," Rowe said. "She's not going to smoke it. It comes in an oil form, and almost everybody's been very supporting of us."

Rowe says the oil is her last resort, because nothing else has worked. You can hear the despair in her voice.

"You know, as these seizures have progressed, she's lost a lot of her personality," Rowe said. "She doesn't smile anymore. She hasn't laughed since April of last year. I want to see her happy again."

Prissy says she's willing to wait on legislative approval of medical marijuana, but would consider moving to Colorado if that doesn't happen.

We could know something soon. Representative Peake's proposal goes before a House committee one week from Monday.

The Alabama Legislature is also expected to address medical marijuana. It too has support, but may be a tougher sell than in Georgia.

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