Guest post by Mixed Up Daddy
For those of you that have wondered, yes there is a Mixed Up Daddy that walks the path of life with Mixed Up Mommy. Probably more astonishing to some (including my family and close friends), I even can write! Although let me start by saying I don’t write nearly as well as my wife.
Also, before I get into the true reason of this post, let me just say how proud of my wife I am, not only for writing this blog and educating so many on TSC and our journey through it, but also for being an incredible wife and best friend to me, and of course the best mom ever to Connor (no offense to the other moms out there!). I also want to thank the little man himself, Connor. He is such an inspiration to me, and I only wish I could have a little bit of the strength and courage he shows every day.
Now on to the reason for my first foray into blogging — a certain state representative here in Georgia. As I am sure you are all aware from reading Becky’s blog, there has been a push in 2014 to legalize medical cannabis oil in Georgia — oil that could potentially not only help with the quality of life for so many like Connor, but could potentially be lifesaving. It goes without saying how wonderful it is to have State Representative Allen Peake of District 141 who was willing to champion this cause for so many on our side. He did this knowing it was going to be a tough fight and one that could potentially end his political career. It is refreshing having politicians who, even though they may lose their political career, are still willing to take on the hard issues because it is the right thing to do! I applaud you sir!!! I only wish we had more like you at every level of government.
But that isn’t the representative I came to write about. I also didn’t come to write about my State Senator who, although he is in the state senate to represent myself and the rest of his constituents, never returns emails, voicemails, Twitter messages, stands you up for appointments, and doesn’t even show up for his own scheduled town hall meeting (and let me add this is not just my experience, but dozens of his constituents’ experiences). Nor am I here to write about how wrong it is that our government (both at the federal and state levels) take off every other year from tackling the hard issues because “it is an election year”. Again, there are some great politicians out there that don’t do this, but I am sick of hearing this. You are elected to represent us, each year and every year. I am also not here to tackle the comment made on the floor of the Georgia House of Representatives during the debate on HB885 by a freshman politician that when he took office he was told by other politicians that freshmen congressmen and congresswomen should be seen and not heard. Since when do those who elected a new member to represent them suddenly not have a voice? To me this is nothing more than bullying of politicians by other politicians. Thankfully the above referenced representative did not listen to those politicians, but instead gave a great speech and represented those from his district. On a side note, don’t get me started on the all too common practice in politics of “the more you donate, the more you matter and get access.” Maybe that is how I can get access to my state senator?
Okay, so maybe I got to a few items, just not in the detail I could have.
No, I am here to talk about, and give my opinion — no one else’s — on Georgia State Representative Sharon Cooper of District 43. I did not know who Sharon Cooper was before this process as I do not live in her district and did not get involved in state politics. But after this process, oh wow! Now I readily admit I am biased when it comes to the topic of cannabis oil, but my issue with Sharon Cooper isn’t so much on this topic, but the way she has conducted herself during this process, and I can only assume, how she conducts herself in general down at the Gold Dome (the Capital in Georgia is referred to as the Gold Dome). I also will say that she voted for this bill twice — once in committee and once in the full House vote. But looks can be deceiving. In my humble opinion she has actually been trying to kill the bill behind the scenes. I will get to that in a moment. Some though will say, “Why would she vote for the bill if she didn’t want it passed in reality?” Well that is where I question how she does things. Based on parents who were in the House during the vote, she was one of the last to vote. Again it is just my opinion, but my guess is that she was seeing how the vote was going, and in “old school politician” mode, chose to vote for it as it isn’t easy to be a “no” vote when the vote is 171-4, but it is easy to hide as a “no” vote if the vote were say 104-71. (I know old school dirty politics, I was born and raised in Chicago, where that was invented). No, an “old school politician” would vote for it (knowing that is what the public would see), and then behind the “closed doors” of the capitol try to kill the bill (luckily the doors of the capitol of Georgia are not as “closed” as she thinks). My issue here is that she has a responsibility to her constituents to show them how she truly votes on the issues, not resort to the all too common politics of today of “I will do whatever I need to do to get reelected”. I have no problem with my elected officials voting contrary to my opinion on issues, as there is no way we would see eye to eye on every issue. We should not have to ask that they vote accurately though so we can actually make an informed decision during elections. We deserve that much!
Now you may ask, “How was she trying to kill the bill?” Behind the scenes at the Gold Dome she was passing out a flyer on the “Truths” (my wording) of HB885, yet there were several facts that were wrong on it. I am not sure if she just got the facts wrong and didn’t do the research, or if she did this on purpose, but either way that is unconscionable, and although it is common in politics, has no place. Let’s also not forget that her position on some items is ever changing. Take Epidiolex (a pharmaceutical cannabis product that is currently going through FDA trials and shows some great promise) for example. At her committee meeting there was testimony by a woman — a family values advocate, not a doctor –who said Epidiolex could be here in Georgia in 30 days, yet there was also testimony by a respected neurologist (Connor’s doctor, and many of the other children that could benefit from cannabis oil) who said he was in the process of getting DEA approval to run an Epidiolex trail, but it was a long and arduous process. So who does she back during the meeting? The non-doctor testimony — never mind the fact that it was a lie. She would correct that in later speeches and comments though. She could have also found out more about how it is such a long process by watching the show Weed 2 that recently aired on CNN and was done by Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Of course this is the same congresswoman who called into question Dr. Gupta’s credibility during her committee meeting. Never mind Dr. Gupta is a well respected neurosurgeon, assistant professor, and journalist. She also cut off more than one parent during their testimony, including one that she would later reference in her speech on the House floor regarding medical cannabis, although twisting and misrepresenting his story to fit her ways.
Representative Cooper’s big idea on the subject is that we have an alternative FDA medicine — Epidiolex — at our disposal. Unfortunately that medicine is not readily available and we have no idea when it will be (most likely years based on other FDA timelines). Currently it is only in trials, very limited trials (we are talking 125 people, and based on trials that are trying to get up and running, at most maybe 2000 people, but probably less, in the future). She also has said that Children’s Hospital of Atlanta has told her they are open to do studies on Epidiolex, yet when contacted, CHOA said they have no interest in doing a study on Epidiolex at this time. I have no idea why the parents are getting different information than Representative Cooper, but we certainly aren’t being told what she says she’s hearing (maybe “old school politics” again). What do these parents and adults do in the meantime? Also, let me point out that most patients have exhausted all available FDA-approved meds that are out there for their conditions. Let me also mention that although I am sure there are some incredible people working for the FDA, let’s not forget that the top levels at the FDA are political appointees, and that big pharma is an incredibly powerful lobby and big contributors to political campaigns. Let’s also not forget the side effects that come with the FDA-approved meds that are taken every day — possible vision damage, kidney failure and liver damage to name just a few. Or that there have been FDA-approved drugs that have then been recalled.
I am digressing though. There are some incredible parents we have met along this journey that are a lot better at giving examples of her lies, and if they cannot get them published in the Atlanta paper, I am sure my wife will give you a forum to get your message out. Since the Atlanta paper allowed an editorial by Sharon Cooper though, I certainly hope they give “us” a chance to get the truth out there. Again, this is about her shady politics, though. This is what the general public has grown sick of in America. We expect our politicians to act in a better manner. I only wish I lived in her district to run against her. In Georgia though, we are sort of set-up where the common man can’t run. We only pay our politicians less than $18,000 a year (no, I am in no way advocating for higher pay), so unfortunately unless you are a business owner, or independently wealthy, it is almost impossible to run as you can’t raise a family on that pay. As great as my company is, and they have been incredible throughout our whole journey with TSC, I am pretty sure they are not going to let me take the first three months of the year off. And how I would love to run against our state senator so that everyone in our district could be heard and represented. I deserve to be heard and represented; we all deserve to be heard and represented!