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Medical marijuana gains traction in the Deep South

Barbara Kutchback, a medical marijuana advocate, held a photo of her grandchild during a hearing last month at the Georgia State House. The child suffers from a rare form of epilepsy; her family believes marijuana could ease symptoms.
Barbara Kutchback, a medical marijuana advocate, held a photo of her grandchild during a hearing last month at the Georgia State House. The child suffers from a rare form of epilepsy; her family believes marijuana could ease symptoms.John Amis /ASSOCIATED PRESS, FILE

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ATLANTA — Medical marijuana has been a non-starter in recent years in the Deep South, where many Republican lawmakers feared it could lead to widespread drug use and social ills. That now appears to be changing, with proposals to allow a form of medical marijuana gaining momentum in a handful of Southern states.

Twenty states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, and this year powerful GOP lawmakers in Georgia and Alabama are putting their weight behind bills that would allow for the limited use of cannabis oil by those with specific medical conditions.

Other Southern states are also weighing the issue. One factor has been the stories of children suffering up to 100 seizures a day whose parents say they could benefit from access to cannabidiol.

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