The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia is asking a judge to reunite a Macon couple with their epileptic son, who was removed from their home after they let him smoke marijuana to stop his seizures.
The court brief was filed in Twiggs County Juvenile Court in support of Suzeanna and Matthew Brill to protect "their fundamental right to parent and obtain the medical treatment they need" for their 15-year-old son, according to an ACLU news release.
The Brills were jailed April 20 on one count each of reckless conduct, which resulted in their son, David Ray, being placed in the care of the Division of Family and Children Services.
The teenager suffered a seizure the day he was taken from his home and was hospitalized. He flat-lined 15 times, the release said.
“Georgia is tearing vulnerable children away from their parents and placing them in danger based on inexcusable ignorance about the proven medical benefits of marijuana use,” Sean J. Young, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia, said in the release.
"Already, 31 states have passed comprehensive medical marijuana reform that would have allowed the Brills to give their son the necessary medical treatment he urgently needs," Young said. "Georgia needs to join the rest of the country and pass comprehensive medical marijuana reform before we put any more lives at risk.”
Matthew Brill expressed appreciation of the backing from the ACLU of Georgia.
"That’s fantastic," Brill said. "It’s not the exact agenda that we’re pushing for because our No. 1 concern was the immediate and proper care for our son when DFCS had took David away from us.
"But what the ACLU actually submitted is what we’re working for in the end, period. We’re trying to gain free and safe access for everybody in the state of Georgia."
Before allowing the teenager to smoke marijuana, the Brills had sought the care of a doctor, administered the prescribed medicine and had tried THC oil, the only legal form of medical marijuana in Georgia, the release said. But nothing worked.
"To end the horror of helplessly watching their child convulse several times a day, the Brills treated their son’s epilepsy in the only way proven to be most effective: smoking the plant itself, which immediately stopped his seizures," the release said.
The teenager remained seizure-free for more than 70 days after the Brills' decision to medicate him with marijuana, the release said.
The ACLU brief “urges this court to return (the son) back to his rightful home with parents who love him and want nothing but the very best to help him live and lead a healthy and happy life.”
A judicial review hearing is scheduled for Monday morning before Twiggs County Juvenile Judge Samuel Hilbun. Suzeanna Brill said the goal of the hearing is to get their son back.
The Brills are working with their attorneys on a plan to bring about the legalization of all forms of medical marijuana in Georgia.
Matthew Brill offered advice to other parents who might be going through the same battle.
"Get educated about what’s going with your children, and compose a plan and fight to the end," he said. "That’s the only way you’re going to get anywhere in the state of Georgia if you’re trying to do something that’s not what’s called 'traditional medicine' at this point."
Twiggs County Sheriff Darren Mitchum came under fire — receiving profane e-mails, nasty phone calls and threats that prompted a news conference.
The Brills were living in Twiggs County when arrested, but said they have since moved to Macon.
Telegraph archives were used in this report.