“It’s not been a good deal with us,” he said.
However, he has ordered the marijuana derivative, cannabidiol, from a Colorado distributor at a cost of $840 monthly since September. What had been two to three days between seizures increased to nine days between them and allowed a formerly non-verbal child to begin producing sounds, he said.
“We’re starting to get our child back,” Wages said. “That’s our goal, to have her say, ‘Daddy, I love you.’”
District 67 State Rep. Micah Gravley, R-Douglasville, is among five co-sponsors of House Bill 885 to legalize the medicine in Georgia. Gravley's district includes Douglas and Paulding counties.
District 141 State Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, is sponsoring the legislation, which was introduced Tuesday. Other co-sponsors include District 133 State Rep. John Pezold, R-Fortson; District 166 State Rep. Ben Watson, R-Savannah; District 120 State Rep. Mickey Channell, R-Greensboro; District 59 State Rep. Margaret Kaiser, D-Atlanta; and District 33 State Rep. Tom McCall, R-Elberton.
Channell is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, while McCall chairs the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee.
Gravley said legislative supporters are “in lockstep in a unified front” on introducing a bill that would only allow cannabidiol oil for specific medical conditions such as Dravet Syndrome, which is a severe form of epilepsy characterized by seizures which halt a child’s normal development.
“Their cognitive thinking is coming back to them. These kids are in a vegetative state almost, because they’re seizing for so long,” he said. “Each time a seizure happens, it damages the brain. You’ve got kids who have died and are on the way to getting there.”
Gravley said the bill would allow the sale of the oil, which is a non-psychoactive part of the marijuana plant.
Gravley said the bill would be tightly worded to only allow the part of the plant used to make the beneficial oil. Physicians would regulate who receives the medicine.
“The three of us 100 percent disagree with the legalization of recreational marijuana,” Gravley said.
Two area families have approached Gravley about supporting legislation, including the Wages family and the south Paulding parents of 10-year-old Caden Clark, who has a severe seizure disorder.
Caden and his mother have moved to Colorado to have access to the medicine, while his father still resides in Paulding to keep his job and accompanying medical benefits.
Sydney Wages is a special needs student at Burnt Hickory Elementary School. She also suffers from autism and is non-verbal. She wears a helmet to school to guard against falls and has the use of a “seizure” dog to assist her, her father said.
Wages, a county government building inspector, has been forced to tap into his retirement funds to buy the capsules.
He is hoping that, with legalization, he can find a physician who will prescribe it so his insurance provider will cover the cost.
“God put this plant here for a reason,” he said. “It wasn’t for recreational use.”