Time running out for passage of medical marijuana bill

mlee@macon.comMarch 19, 2014 

ATLANTA -- The Georgia state Senate on Tuesday skipped a vote to decriminalize possession of a single type of liquid medicine derived from cannabis, meaning the last chance for passage of the measure this year is Thursday.

“There is a very real chance that our bill gets caught in a game of tug-of-war,” said state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, the author of House Bill 885. It aims to give Georgians access to a non-hallucinogenic medicine made from cannabis to treat pediatric seizures.

A Senate committee passed a version that would allow people to possess that liquid in Georgia if they go to a state like Colorado where it’s legal, get a prescription and have it filled there. But it was also amended to include a controversial bill to require insurance companies to cover pediatric autism treatment.

The full Senate put HB 885 with the autism language on a list of more than 90 bills they planned to consider over Tuesday and Thursday.

There’s little opposition to the principle of Georgia families accessing the medicine, the debate is how to best to make sure the bill is not an empty promise.

The House approved a version that called on the state’s five medical research universities to consider growing a single strain of marijuana and synthesizing the medicine. Both the plant and the compound are rich in cannabidiol, or CBD, which causes no high. It’s already approved for use in the United Kingdom.

“I’m disappointed that we didn’t get another step forward today,” said Peake on Tuesday night, “but I’m optimistic that we will still get a vote Thursday morning.”

The annual legislative session ends Thursday.

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