Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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February 11, 2014

Pot in the Deep South

Medical marijuana debate gaining momentum in South

(Continued)

Elsewhere, both Kentucky and Tennessee have medical marijuana bills under consideration although they have yet to gain traction. Kentucky Senate President Rover Stivers, R-Manchester, has said he's not convinced marijuana has legitimate medical purposes and called it an area ripe for abuse.

In Florida, it's likely to become a campaign issue in the fall given that Gov. Rick Scott is up for re-election and a proposed constitutional amendment will be on the ballot that would allow for the medical use of marijuana as determined by a licensed physician. Former Republican Gov. Charlie Christ, now a Democrat seeking to challenge Scott, has called it "an issue of compassion, trusting doctors and trusting the people of Florida."

Meanwhile, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has signaled a willingness to discuss medicine that might be derived from marijuana with appropriate federal regulation.

"If someone wants to use the medicine that is in marijuana, go through the same testing that you have to go through when you do that through the (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), you go through all of that, do the testing, the drug testing, that's fine," Bentley said last month. "I have no problem with that. I am not just for prescribing marijuana."

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has declined to take a position, but noted the "strong case being presented by some of the families with very serious situations involving their children."

Dustin Chandler, a police officer in Pelham, Ala., has been a major part of the effort there. His daughter, 2-year-old Carly, has three to five seizures each day from a severe neurological condition she has had since infancy. Chandler believes cannabidiol could help control his daughter's seizures and improve her cognitive functioning based on anecdotal evidence seen elsewhere.

"We've been battling the stigma from the m-word," Chandler said. "I'd love to hear my daughter talk. I'd love to hear her say one word. You know that is something most parents take for granted."

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