Two Georgia parents are facing fines and prison time for allegedly giving their 15-year-old son marijuana to treat his seizure disorder, authorities said.
Suzeanna and Matthew Brill of Macon were arrested in April on reckless conduct charges after an investigation by the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services determined the pair had allowed their son, David, to smoke marijuana to deal with the seizures, Twiggs County Sheriff Darren Mitchum said in a press conference Thursday.
The couple began giving their son marijuana in February, Steve Sadow, who is representing the family pro bono, told ABC News.
“That was the last ditch effort. They had tried all the medical treatments and pharmaceuticals recommended or prescribed,” Sadow said.
The marijuana helped David go 71 days without a seizure, Sadow said. After authorities visited their home, David’s parents stopped giving him the drug, the lawyer added.
But less than 12 hours later, David suffered one of the worst seizures he had ever had, Sadow said.
The teen was removed from his parents’ home and is now in a group home. While there — and without access to marijuana — he has continued to suffer seizures, Sadow said.
Marijuana is illegal in Georgia, but the use of cannabis oil to treat seizures is legal. Obtaining cannabis oil legally there, however, is nearly impossible, Sadow said.
It’s difficult to obtain the medical marijuana card needed to possess it legally and purchasing it can be prosecuted as a crime, he explained.
Mitchum, meanwhile, defended his deputy’s decision to arrest the parents and remove the teen from the home.
“I think [the deputy] would have been negligent, having stood there and heard what he heard in person himself had he not acted,” Mitchum said. “Somebody has got to stand up for this child.”
But Sadow said his clients had tried every conventional method of treating their son’s seizures before turning to marijuana; they were acting with their son’s best interests in mind, he said.
“Being separated from their son is difficult on so many levels,” Sadow said. “First, there is the child’s well-being in general and because of the seizures he suffers … then there is their criminal status.”
The Brills were released on bond. There is a June 14 hearing in juvenile court that could determine whether David is allowed to return to them, Sadow said.
The reckless conduct charges the Brills face could bring up to a year in a prison and $1,000 in fines if the district attorney chooses to pursue the charges, Sadow said.
The Twiggs County District Attorney’s office told ABC News they do not comment on pending cases.