WARNER ROBINS, Ga. - A high school athlete is at the center of a cannabis oil debate. He is one of 1,700 patients to sign up throughout the state for medical marijuana, but his high school says he can't bring it on campus.
WSBTV’s Rikki Klaus spoke with CJ Harris, who is currently traveling with the Warner Robins High School basketball team.
He played at Lambert High in Suwannee over the weekend. His family credits medical cannabis oil for keeping CJ seizure-free the last several months.
"It's hard because you don't know if this is your last breath your child is taking. You just don't know," father Curtis Harris told Klaus.
Harris said he couldn't be more proud of his 17-year-old son, CJ.
Klaus looked on as the Warner Robins High School basketball player hit the court in Gwinnett County over the weekend. But epilepsy kept stealing CJ's thunder, and his prescription pills weren't working.
"I wake up every morning and I pray, ‘Please don't let nothing happen today. Please don't let nothing happen today,’" CJ told Klaus.
Harris said his son has had about 15 seizures, and hit his head half a dozen times.
CJ’s last seizure was in early January.
In mid-January, CJ started taking medical cannabis oil, legal in the state of Georgia for two years now.
Harris said it's worked, so far.
"He's going from having two seizures a month or one seizure a month, and now he hasn't had any? That's like, wow," Harris said.
But CJ has had to miss class, just so he can take his noon dose.
Family says cannabis oil has been a game changer for this HS athlete w/ epilepsy. But he can't take his noon dose at school, due to fed law. pic.twitter.com/GQx380zgkh— Rikki Klaus (@RikkiKlausWSB) May 23, 2017
The medicine is forbidden on his campus. It violates federal law. For Harris and his son, it's a huge inconvenience.
"So I've got to come pick him up every day, check him out of school, bring him to the house," Harris said.
Klaus contacted the Houston County Board of Education, which sent her a statement that reads, in part:
"Per the Safe and Drug Free Schools federal law, the oil may not be brought onto school grounds."
State Rep. Allen Peake, who is responsible for advocating for and ushering in Georgia's medical marijuana program, said cases like this are going to become more and more common, since state law conflicts with federal law.
"CJ's case is not going to be isolated. There are kids all over the state who are going to be facing the same issue, particularly now that autism is added to the list of qualifying conditions," Peake told Klaus.
Harris said the medicine was allowed at his son's old school, a private school in Macon. He wants that same freedom for CJ at Warner Robins.
Peake said school administrators need to get courageous, do what's best for the students and allow cannabis oil on campus.
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