Georgia has always had tight restrictions when it comes to marijuana but 2 years ago, Gov. Nathan Deal signed a law into place allowing the sale and use of cannabis oil to treat a limited number of illnesses. Now, 2 weeks into session for 2017, Rep. Allen Peake has developed and delivered a couple of measures that would change Georgia marijuana laws. The main issue that Peake and other legislators are looking at is that, while cannabis oil is legal, it is not legal to grow weed and manufacture the oil in Georgia. This means that patients have to order it from different states which can be expensive and more risky in general.
Georgia Marijuana Shops Under House Bill 36
Peake introduced House Bill 36, a Yes or No public vote to legalize the sale of marijuana based medicine. In this way, patients could purchase their cannabis oil directly from Georgia marijuana stores. The bill authorizes the General Assembly to create regulations for the production of medical marijuana so that it can be grown and manufactured in Georgia. It proposes that state taxes be imposed on the price of the sale of marijuana. The tax revenue is to provide extra funding to the state to be used in whatever way city representatives see fit.
Broadening Qualifying Conditions with House Bill 65
House Bill 65, another bill presented by Peake, looks to widen the number of patients who are eligible for treatment using medical marijuana. This list would include people suffering from AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, intractable pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and Tourette’s syndrome. The bill seeks to redefine the program, removing some of the current restrictions as well as address conflicting laws. The current qualifying conditions for the Georgia marijuana program includes cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, mitochondrial disease, Parkinson’s disease and sickle cell disease.
Restricting THC with Senate Bill 16
Senators Watson and Unterman have also filed Senate Bill 16, which aims to reduce the amount of THC found in cannabis oil. They propose that the levels be reduced by 2 percent, taking them from 5 percent down to 3 percent. THC is the psychoactive compound found in marijuana that produces the high. Currently the Low THC Patient Registry allows for patients to access medical marijuana oil with a very low THC level. This bill proposes the percentage be made even smaller and the regulations surrounding the current law be reviewed in order to keep in line with the reduced amount.
Many states, including Rhode Island and New Jersey, are deciding on whether or not to legalize marijuana before the Trump administration fully takes over. Those states have proposed legalizing medical marijuana through legislature. Peake and other Georgia officials are not confident that the bills would pass in Georgia under legislature. A public vote is being seen as the best option. This is especially true, given that all the most recent polls indicate that the majority of the public are in favor of legalizing marijuana, both medicinally and recreationally. Other officials have co-sponsored Peake’s bill and support seems to be backing the forward momentum of loosening the Georgia marijuana laws.