Roughly 100 freshmen Advanced Placement (AP) Government students at Alexander High School got a chance to hear about state government first-hand Thursday morning from District 67 Rep. Micah Gravley.

Gravley, a Douglasville Republican who represents parts of south Paulding and west Douglas counties, talked to the students about “how government affects their lives directly” and some of the key bills he's helped pass that directly affect Douglas County.

Gravley was instrumental in getting passage of House Bill 449, which restricts access to the audio of 911 calls if the caller dies. He told the students the bill originated from Douglas County E-911 Director Greg Whitaker after the 2009 floods that saw several people die in the county. Gravley said Atlanta TV stations were requesting audio of people dying while talking to E-911 dispatchers and Whitaker asked him for help.

He also was instrumental in getting legislation passed to honor the life of longtime Douglas County resident and WSB traffic reporter Capt. Herb Emory by dedicating the new Lee Road bridge to his memory. 

“I grew up listening to Capt. Herb Emory,” said Gravley. “He was an icon and ‘salt of the earth’ man. For me to carry this bill was an honor.” 

Gravley told the students that he was the co-sponsor of a bill allowing the use of medical cannabis “for certain people in the state with certain diseases.”

He reached into a bag and pulled out a large number of prescription drug bottles, which he explained was the amount of drugs a child would have to take for intractable epilepsy to calm them down.

Gravley first heard about the medical benefits of a cannabidiol (CBD) from someone he’d gone to middle school with — and the mother of a child with epilepsy. Then he found out about another girl “who had 40 to 50 seizures a day. She couldn’t do the things you do daily.” 

He told the students that he found out from other states that the extract CBD — a natural anti-inflammatory — calms the brain. It does not make a person high as opposed to the effect of marijuana.

“It is an extracted oil which stops the seizures with no side effects,” Gravley said. 

He said that a lot of families were leaving Georgia to obtain the drug for treatment of their child’s seizures.

Gravley warned the students, however, that possessing marijuana in any form could land them in jail. 

“You will go to jail if you have the cannabis oil in your possession without a card from a doctor,” he said.

He told the students that the leading cause of overdose death in the United States is by prescription drugs.

“We need to make sure we do our job right and work with law enforcement,” Gravley said.

The social media-savvy state representative encouraged the ninth grade students to get involved with their government — and to contact him directly through Facebook, email, text message, Twitter or Instagram. He also encouraged them to come down to the capitol one day and witness government in action first hand. 

“I want to hear from you,” said Gravley. “One of you may be standing up here one day, so it is incumbent upon you to know what may affect you.”

He stressed that the students “take an interest to guide your life. The decisions you make today affect you five, 10, 15, 20 years down the road.” 

Gravley said, “A future state representative could be sitting right here in this room. You can start right now by being a leader. Assume that someone needs a friend. Study an extra hour. Everything you do prepares you for this job. The things you are interested in will have an affect on you down the road. Be prepared — be ready for those opportunities.”

Gravley cited examples from his own life to the Alexander students. He shared with them that he had a learning disability not discovered until he was a freshman in college that caused him not to test well.

“I barely finished high school,” he said. 

He attributes hard work and a strong work ethic that not only brought him to his position in state government, but helps him in the position.

Contact Liz Marino by email at liz@douglascountysentinel.com or by phone at 770-942-6571 ext. 233.

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