Politics & Government

State House backs medical marijuana bill

ATLANTA -- Monroe County 5-year-old Haleigh Cox dozed, but tears welled up in her mother Janea’s eyes as the state House approved the “Haleigh’s Hope Act,” which will allow the girl for the first time to take a cannabis-based medicine at home.

It was the last formal vote on the bill, which Gov. Nathan Deal is expected to sign Friday.

“It takes a huge weight off our shoulders,” said Janea Cox, wiping tears from her eyes just outside the state House chamber Wednesday. “My husband and I and Haleigh can be a family again.”

Haleigh has a severe kind of epilepsy that causes sometimes more than 100 seizures a day. Janea wanted her to try a kind of liquid cannabis compound that has relieved the symptoms for some children who have similar diagnoses.

Called cannabidiol, the liquid does not cause a high, but it is not available in Georgia.

Janea and Haleigh temporarily moved to Colorado, where the liquid, called cannabidiol oil, greatly reduced Haleigh’s seizures.

Since last year, state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, has worked to set up a medical marijuana framework that would let families like the Coxes return home.

Possession of cannabidiol liquid will be legal for the Coxes and thousands of people who have epilepsy and other diagnoses once Peake’s House Bill 1 becomes law. That will happen as early as this summer, and that’s when Haleigh and Janea Cox are expected to return home permanently.