A Growing Movement for Medical Cannabis Oil Faces Down Georgia's Governor
Mike and Kelli Hopkins never thought they'd ever leave their hometown. After raising four children in Covington, Georgia, the Hopkins family had deep roots in the community, among friends, and at church. Three of the Hopkins' children have suffered from separate genetic disorders with one factor in common -- seizures.
When they found out about a strain of cannabis oil that offered a proven track record of curtailing seizures without the "high" associated with marijuana, they held out hope that Georgia would make the medicine legal. After a bill to make the oil legal failed to pass the legislature in 2014, the Hopkins family made plans to move to Colorado, where the oil is legal.
Kelli and the children would move to Colorado full-time, while Mike would fly back and forth from their home in Covington, where he serves as director of the local water authority, and Colorado to spend time with the family. But the move came too late for two of the Hopkins children, as 21-year-old Mary Elizabeth and six-year-old Abe passed away just a few months apart.
Mike and Kelli vowed to fight again in 2015 to make this near-miraculous oil legal in their home state. Meanwhile, in Colorado, Kelli has tried the oil with 17-year-old Michala, and the family has seen dramatic results.
HB1, The bill in this year's legislative session, has 84% support, according to WSB in Atlanta - however, Governor Nathan Deal vowed to veto the current bill but would support a compromise version that offers immunity from prosecution to anyone who transports the oil into Georgia.
To Mike Hopkins, such an option is too risky for his family to move back home.
“Well, you know when we received the oil in Colorado we signed a document saying we would not leave the state of Colorado with this medicine. That makes it illegal to leave the state of Colorado,” he said.
The legislator behind the bill, Representative Allen Peake, has considered engaging in "a little civil disobedience."
“I’m ready and willing to risk going to jail to be able to go get the product, (and) bring it back to Georgia so that these families can have access to it,” he said.
In the meantime, the Hopkins family, along with around 16 other Georgia families, will remain in Colorado until the Georgia legislature can clear the way for them to come home with the medicine that is making a difference in their children's lives.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock / urbans