ATLANTA — For about a decade, families have long fought for the one thing that will relieve their loved ones from illness-induced pain: medical marijuana.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp created a commission two years ago to guide the process in the state. Now, six companies are on the brink of legally producing medical marijuana in Georgia. However, there's still a long way to go.
Families gathered at the Georgia State Capitol, where they've spent countless nights trying to convince lawmakers. Two of those families said they're hoping this will be a step in the right direction but wary after all they've been through.
Jessica Reid's said she loves to watch her son, whos turning 4 in a few weeks, grow.
"Emmanuel is a delight. He's a delight! He is always smiling," said Reid.
Emmanuel has a rare and debilitating form of epilepsy and was approved for a medical marijuana card when pharmaceuticals on the market did nothing to help.
"He still tries. You can see that personality, that light in his eyes, to say, 'oh, that's a new kid, I want to play with that kid.' That's what this oil does," she said.
While medical marijuana is legal to possess with a license, it's still illegal to buy in the state, which Reid said almost got her son taken away.
"It's in his medical records, but we still had the Division of Family & Children Services come to my home, threatening to take my child away because they said I was giving an illegal substance to a minor," she said.
Reid has fought with other families in Georgia for years to legalize access to the medicine.
"Governor Kemp appointed this commission two years ago, and it has taken them a tremendously long amount of time to get these licenses awarded. So the whole process has been very frustrating. But we hope good things are coming," Shannon Cloud said.
Cloud has lobbied for access for her kids for nearly 10 years.
"It is so frustrating that something that's so beneficial to so many people has been so hard to get into patient's hands," she said.
Cloud said it would likely take at least a year for the companies selected to grow, harvest and retail their product, but she and Reid are looking to the future.
"This medicine will be something that will help him walk, help him talk, eat on his own. And I won't have to worry about the police coming to my door because now it's here," Reid said. "I won't have to do anything illegal to receive it.
The commission is meeting Saturday in Rock Springs, Georgia to announce the selected companies legally allowed to produce medical marijuana.
The families waiting on the decision are worried that lawsuits from companies that were not selected could slow the process even more.