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Medical marijuana gains traction in the Deep South

February 9, 2014 • National News


FILE – In a Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014 file photo, medical marijuana advocate Barbara Kutchback, of Monroe, Ga., holds a photo of her 3-year-old granddaughter as she listens to other advocates tell of their children’s suffering, after a bill to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes was introduced in the State House chamber, in Atlanta. Kutchback’s granddaughter suffers from a rare epilepsy disease and they believe marijuana can help relieve her suffering. In states where lawmakers are more likely to talk about the importance of Second Amendment rights and displays of the Ten Commandments, there is a serious effort underway to legalize medical marijuana. The push is gaining momentum in the Deep South, due in large part to heart-breaking stories of children suffering dozens of seizures a day whose parents say they would benefit from access to a type of cannabis oil.(AP Photo/John Amis, File)

ATLANTA (AP) — Medical marijuana has been a non-starter in recent years in the Deep South, where many Republican lawmakers feared it could lead to widespread drug use and social ills. That now appears to be changing, with proposals to allow a form of medical marijuana gaining momentum in a handful of Southern states.

Twenty states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, and this year powerful GOP lawmakers in Georgia and Alabama are putting their weight behind bills that would allow for the limited use of cannabis oil by those with specific medical conditions. Other Southern states are also weighing the issue with varying levels of support.

The key to swaying the hearts of conservative lawmakers has been the stories of children suffering up to 100 seizures a day whose parents say they could benefit from access to cannabidiol, which would be administered orally in a liquid form. And proponents argue the cannabis oil is low in tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana that makes users feel high.

“I’m an unlikely champion for this cause,” said Georgia Rep. Allen Peake, a businessman from Macon who attended the evangelical Login to read more

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