A new version of medical cannabis bill in the state House would remove “intractable pain” from the debate on patient eligibility for Georgia’s medical marijuana registry. But it would be replaced with three more well-defined diagnoses.
House Bill 65 by state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, would let Georgians join the state medical cannabis registry if they have AIDS or HIV, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, post-traumatic stress disorder, Tourette’s syndrome or are in a hospice program.
But in a search for broader support, he edited his bill to remove “intractable pain” from the list and replace it with three diagnoses that can cause great pain: peripheral neuropathy; autoimmune diseases and epidermolysis bullosa, a rare skin disease.
“Medical cannabis oil has not become a public health risk in the two years the law has been in place, it has not become a public safety issue, it has not lead to DUIs for being under the influence of low-THC oil,” said Peake during a Tuesday hearing on his pitch to open the registry to more Georgians.
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“Low-THC oil” is shorthand for the product that’s legal for the nearly 1,300 Georigans who already have a medical cannabis card for diagnoses like severe seizures. It’s a liquid that has no more than 5 percent THC, the compound in marijuana that causes a high.
In about an hour of testimony at the Capitol on Tuesday, a handful of Georgia physicians said they believe medical cannabis helps some of their patients and can sometimes work better than strong painkillers. However, critics worry about the lack of U.S. scientific studies on medical cannabis and point out that cannabis is still illegal under federal law.
The House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee may schedule a vote on the bill next week.
The state Senate has approved a narrower medical cannabis bill. The House and Senate may end up in a conference committee.
Maggie Lee: @maggie_a_lee