In March, Georgia legislatures expanded treatment for medical marijuana. Even though the medical use of the drug is legal across Georgia, one family says their 17-year-old son is not allowed to take his prescription at school. Yvonne Thomas spoke to the Harris family, who's asking the Georgia Department of Education to update their school policy.
“I was at work and the school called me and told me that CJ had a seizure and I was like,' What?,'” said Curtis Harris Sr. CJ’s father. That was the phone call that changed everything. “I was taking an English test and I just remember waking up in the hospital next,” said Curtis “CJ” Harris Jr.
Even with medication, CJ's seizures continued. One time, he fell on concrete and was rushed to the emergency room for stitches. “It was shocking, and the scary part is when you get to the hospital and you see his head burst open like that,” said Harris Sr. “It would be a month, then I'd have another seizure, then they would up the dosage,” said CJ.
At one point, CJ was taking six large pills a day, so in January, CJ's family decided to try cannabis oil or medical marijuana. “He's not had one seizure since he started using the oil,” said Harris Sr.
CJ takes the oil every six hours starting at 6 a.m., but because of Georgia School policy, he's not able to take his medicine here at school. Instead, his father picks him up every day and takes him home to take his medicine. Because of Georgia's Drug Free School Policy, public schools cannot store the oil on school grounds or administer it. The policy still treats cannabis oil as an illegal drug under federal law.
Taking the medicine at home causes CJ to miss a lot of class time each week. “While I'm getting pulled out of class, I'm missing out on what they're reviewing for,” said CJ. CJ's dad Curtis says the statewide policy is dated and inconvenient. “The state has to step in. I mean, it's 2017, and new cases are coming around,” said Harris Sr.
A change that he says will help his son and others like him. Representative Allen Peake says he is aware of the policy. He says he's hoping that there will be some "courageous state administrators who will do what's in the best interest of the child." We reached out to the Georgia Department of Public School's Health Nurse Program about the policy. We haven't gotten a response.