On the table for state lawmakers this year: three different bills aimed at legalizing some form of medical marijuana and a resolution that could legalize recreational pot for adults 21 and older.
But, it seems Georgia Senators and House Representatives can’t agree on the scope of the law or who it should cover.
“Any legislator can introduce any legislation if they want. It sure doesn’t mean that it’s going to come close to becoming law,” State Representative Allen Peake (R-Macon) told 13WMAZ.
Peake’s been working on the issue for more than a year now, in an effort to bring relief to those suffering from various medical conditions.
His bill, HB 1, jumped its first hurdle last week with a 158-2 vote in the House.
It would legalize cannabis oil up to 5% THC for nine medical conditions and grant immunity for those bringing cannabis oil into Georgia.
There’s some controversy over the THC limit, because the chemical in large doses can cause a high.
“I have some real concerns that the Senate will try to remove the medical conditions that have been approved and try to change some aspects of the bill like the THC level or the amount that can be in possession,” Peake said. “I would be incredibly disappointed if we do not move forward with the medical conditions in HB 1, because I think we’d be leaving a lot of people behind.”
State Senator Curt Thompson proposed Senate Resolution 6, the first attempt to legalize recreational marijuana in Georgia.
There would be no restrictions on how much of the plant could be used, or whether it could be smoked.
It’d be limited to adults 21 and older, and taxes and fees from marijuana sales would be be divvied up to fund education and transportation needs.
But before recreational pot becomes reality in Georgia, it’d need a two-thirds majority in both chambers, and a public vote.
“I have no interest in supporting legislation that legalizes marijuana for recreational use. I don’t think our citizens want that and I don’t think our state is ready for that anytime soon,” Peake said.
Should SR 6 fail, Thompson also introduced SB 7, which lets doctors and other physicians to prescribe limited amounts of medical marijuana for certain conditions, including cancer and glaucoma.
It also sets up a way to grow and distribute medical cannabis in Georgia. That’s something Peake originally included in his bill, but says was knocked down by Governor Nathan Deal.
Then there’s Senate Bill 185, sponsored by State Senator Lindsey Tippins and co-sponsored by State Senator Renee Unterman.
It’d create a four-year clinical medical-cannabis trial at Georgia Regents University for people ages 18 and under, who suffer from “medication-resistant” seizures.
There’s already a small-scale trial going on in Augusta now. “Quite frankly, the bill introduced in the Senate last week does absolutely nothing,” Peake said. “It only ratifies an executive order already given by the Governor. It does not bring our medical refugees home. It does not provide access to thousands of citizens with seizures. and it leaves completely behind cancer and MS patients.” Supporters of HB 1 are concerned because Unterman chairs the health and human services committee. Last year, she attached the Senate autism bill to the medical marijuana bill.
But neither chamber could agree to the change and both bills ultimately died without coming up for another vote. “Last year was political games being played. You know, holding the medical cannabis bill hostage unless a Senate bill was passed in the House,” Peake said. “We’ve tried to make sure they’re not connected and that in any way, there’s not a quid pro quo, pass one for the other. Each bill needs to stand on its own merit.”