“Everyone was telling me I need to name her September, or Hope or Faith,” Corey Lowe says of her daughter. “But I chose Victoria. Victory I liked. And because otherwise, I thought her birthdate was enough; I didn’t want it to define her.”
Victoria Elizabeth Lowe was born on 9/11/01. And, like her mother says, she isn’t defined by her very famous birthdate. Or by the seizure and mitochondrial disorders that make life difficult for her. Like so many other children of cannabis warrior mothers, she is so much more than anyone expected.
“I was a new mom,” Corey says. “But I knew something wasn’t right.” Victoria began seizing very young, and after many trips to the emergency room (“I just kept coming back,” Corey says, “And they just kept turning me away.”), she was eventually diagnosed and given a grim prognosis. She seized often. Experienced developmental delays. Corey was told Victoria would never walk, or be verbal. “They told me she wouldn’t live long. That I should just start planning her funeral.”
By 2013, Corey had exhausted traditional medical advice, and had begun hearing a growing, steady chorus of whispers about a miracle treatment: CBD. She was intrigued, devoured internet literature, skimmed hours of YouTube and sobbed while Dr. Sanjay Gupta pronounced seizure sufferer Charlotte Figi’s plight had changed his mind about cannabis. Her realization: She was employed as a Police Officer in Georgia, a state so slow to adopt progressive legislature that its citizens had just recently been granted the right to purchase alcohol on Sundays. “I’m a cop,” she thought. “I can’t do this.”
After a chance meeting with a cannabis-tincture making California mother with similar needs who happened to be married to a CHIP officer, Corey realized her calling – and what she needed to do. She resigned the force in 2013 and joined up with other “seizure parents,” in a group called Georgia’s Hope. Their mission: To “get the right medicine to the right people.” They began lobbying Georgia’s legislature, visiting the Capitol, and putting their vocal support behind various pieces of cannabis legislation.
Unfortunately, change was slow, and Victoria’s seizures weren’t waning. Frustrated with lack of progress on the home front, Corey did what so many cannabis moms do: she picked up and moved to a friendlier state, becoming a medical refugee. In Colorado, the low-THC oil Victoria needed was legal, restrictions were looser, and results were dramatic. “In Colorado, Victoria tried the oil for the first time and spoke for the first time,” Corey says. “And more importantly, she stopped having seizures.”
But while Victoria thrived, Corey’s family in Georgia suffered. “When school started, my son’s teacher sent me an email, saying ‘I'm not seeing your son smile.’ It made sense: Half his family was gone.” In a heartbreaking decision, Corey and Victoria returned to Georgia. Without access, they were forced to stop treatment, and the seizures resumed.
This, thankfully, isn’t the end of the story.
Back in the south, Corey returned to her base – the underground network of parents and patients who “get the right medicines to the right people.” Today, while she works the channels she can for her child and others, her end game is loftier. “Safe access to cannabis products for everyone. Third-party tested, proven and assured to not be tampered with.” Why? Corey is a woman who knows her audience. “A lot of parents won’t feel safe until we have dispensaries and legal, regulated access. I tell them, ‘But your child is suffering. You have access.’ But until they can go into a Walgreens-type brick and mortar, most are not going to trust it.”
“And that’s the saddest part,” she adds. “Every, single parent that I've encountered has said that their biggest regret is that they didn't do this (use a cannabis product) sooner. It’s why I'm so passionate about it.”
Time here, as in all things, is of the essence. And right now, the global pandemic has put Corey’s efforts in Georgia’s legislature largely on hold. It hasn’t however muted her infinite fighting strength. “I interviewed for a front-page article for the Cherokee Tribune. I tell every one of my Uber riders about the cause. I wear a Cannabis tee shirt everywhere I go. We’re even trying to get on Family Feud so I can tell Steve Harvey ‘I’m a cannabis advocate.’”
“If we’re talking, we’re winning. So everywhere I go, I start the conversation.”
“But even better, that ‘victory’ in Victoria’s name…it’s going to mean something different from now on,” she adds with a smile.” Now, it’ll be about victory with cannabis.”