Breaking News
More () »

After 8 years, cannabis oil still working as relief for Central Georgia girl's seizures

Back in 2014, Haleigh would have as many as 200 seizures a day. At 4-and-a-half years old, doctors told Janea her daughter wouldn't live past the age of 5.

MACON, Ga. — A story we continue to follow is about a little girl named Haleigh Cox whose family turned to cannabis oil to help treat her seizures. We introduced you to her when she was 4 years old. Now, it's eight years later. We caught up with Cox and the former state rep who began the battle to get access to medical marijuana. 

They say it hasn't been easy, and it's not over.

"I used to have to watch her every minute of every day. She would stop breathing and it was so hard to take even a moments time away from her," said Janea Cox, mother of Haleigh. 

Back in 2014, Haleigh would have as many as 200 seizures a day. At 4-and-a- half years old, doctors told Janea her daughter wouldn't live past the age of 5.

"Honestly, cannabis oil was our last resort. There was nothing else we could do for her. We had done surgeries, we had done all the meds the doctors kept throwing at her," Cox said. 

Janea reached out to then-State Representative Allen Peake for help.

Peake says he asked himself what he would do if it was his child.

"The answer to that question was, 'I'd crawl over broken glass to do whatever it took to stop the seizures in this beautiful little girl,'" Peake said. 

Starting in 2014, Peake began filing bills to make cannabis oil or medical marijuana available for people with severe medical problems like Haleigh's.

His bill failed the first year, but in 2015 Governor Nathan Deal signed the bill called "Haleigh's Hope."

It created a limited list of medical conditions that qualified and said patients needed state approval to receive the treatment, but Peake and Janea Cox agree it's not enough.

"But it left a gaping hole. How do we get the product? So there was no legal way to access the product here in Georgia, so that was our next step. We began to work on that in 2016, 2017, and 2018. We actually were never able to get it done," Peake said. 

During the fight, the Cox family moved to Colorado where it's easier to access cannabis oil and they can go directly to a grower.

Haleigh uses a strain that's named for her, also called "Haleigh's Hope." Now, at nearly 13 years old, Haleigh only has one to two seizures on a bad day.

"I was so worried I was going to lose my child at such a young age. I didn't even know if she knew who I was or if that I was even in front of her or around. Now, I know she looks for me, she calls for me," Cox said. 

Now out of office, Peake says he is still working to help Georgia families by distributing cannabis oil to people who need it.

"We give it to Georgia families who reach out to us for free. We failed in being able to pass legislation that would allow an infrastructure here in Georgia, so we're going to do the next best thing," Peake said.

They both hope Georgia will improve access to the treatment that helped Haleigh so the Coxes can come home.

"Figure out how to get it growing so that more kids can have access to it," Cox said. 

"We shouldn't be forcing hurting Georgia citizens to have to leave our state, to go somewhere else to find a product that is working for them, and providing a better quality of life for them," Peake said. 

But Janea says she's just grateful they found the treatment that saved Haleigh's life.

"She wouldn't be here without it, I know that for sure," Cox said.

Peake says right now, there are 20,000 people on the registry. He hopes to see those people getting their needs met in Georgia instead of going to other states that have already legalized growing medical marijuana.

Before You Leave, Check This Out