Medical Marijuana

Extremely Limited Medical Marijuana Use May Be Coming to Georgia

Cannabis oil would be legal in some cases-if you can get your hands on it.


Nanny, may I?
Credit: Stephen Charles Thompson

Georgia's state senate has approved a very narrowly worded bill to allow for some medical marijuana use in the Peach State. Even getting to this point required some significant compromise. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

A two-year effort to legalize medical marijuana in Georgia may finally succeed, as the Senate passed a likely compromise that would OK a limited form of the drug for disorders including cancer, seizures and sickle cell disease.

House Bill 1 still needs another nod from the House before it receives final passage. But by beating back efforts from the chamber's conservatives to gut the bill on the floor, Senate supporters have handed over legislation likely to make that happen — especially since it is already supported by the bill's sponsor, state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon.

The compromise was made last week, after Senate Health and Human Services Chairwoman Renee Unterman, R-Buford, rewrote HB 1 as a way to merge a restrictive medical marijuana measure already approved in the Senate and a much broader effort already approved by the House.

The new version would allow cannabis oil to be used to treat eight of the nine disorders sought by the House in that chamber's own medical marijuana proposal: cancer, Crohn's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), mitochondrial disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, seizure disorders and sickle cell disease.

Those with fibromyalgia can apparently suck it. They were dumped from the list. Previous proposals only opened up the use of cannabis oils to children. This new proposal now also allows for adults. It also places strict limits in how much THC can be in the oil.

It's also important to note that this legislation doesn't actually legalize any of the process of getting one's hands on this cannabis oil treatment: growing, producing, manufacturing—any of that. It's just legal to have it. Thus, the proposed federal CARERS Act (Jacob Sullum wrote about it previously here) would be particularly helpful, as it would allow the transportation of cannabis oils from states where marijuana cultivation is permitted to states where it is not. The senate bill authorizes the state's university system to develop a cannabis oil research and development program under guidelines permitted under federal law, which is a problem in that the federal government has been stonewalling these kinds of programs. Kentucky took a similar route; researchers ran into problems trying to actually get their hands on any oil.

Also of note: The bill would create a state marijuana commission tasked with producing a report by the end of December to examine medical marijuana programs across the country and make some recommendations. So while this endorsement of medical marijuana may seem very small compared to what other states are doing, the state will be exploring further expansion.