Georgia House Passes Medical Marijuana Bill

While it is an extremely small step, Georgia has made some progress on medical marijuana legislation. The Georgia House of Representatives passed House Bill 1 on February 25, 2015. The bill is designed to establish the provisions and regulations for the use of low-THC oil in the treatment of nine approved medical conditions. The bill is now headed for a vote in the Senate.

The bill has been fraught with difficulty since its creation. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Allen Peake, felt compelled to revise his proposal after a meeting with Gov. Nathan Deal. This reduced the number of pre-approved medical conditions from 17 to eight. Then, at the last minute, a ninth condition was added at the behest of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus. Peake told 13 WMAZ, “Members of our house … came and expressed a real desire to include sickle cell disease” and “[we came] to the conclusion that it makes sense to add sickle cell disease as a disease that could potentially benefit from medical cannabis.”

The House deserves a moment to celebrate the passing of HB 1, but there are no guarantees for the legalization of medical marijuana in Georgia. According to the Peach Pundit, Peake fears the Senate will cut several of the medical conditions, potentially narrowing it down to just one—seizures suffered by children. It is clear that politicians are starting to realize the medical potential of marijuana in treating epilepsy, but they should not disregard marijuana’s medical potential in treating other conditions of equal or greater severity.

Considering Peake’s bill is for low-THC medical marijuana, one can hope that the Senate will err on the side of compassion and allow access for all of those suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis, seizure disorders, ALS, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, mitochondrial disease, sickle cell disease and fibromyalgia.

If the Senate passes the bill, the governor will have to sign it into law in order for it to take effect. According to OnlineAthens, the bill’s current form wouldn’t likely earn Deal’s approval. For the people of Georgia who support HB 1, now may be the time to write to your senators and governor before their minds are officially closed.

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