Marijuana: Uncertain medicine
Georgia lawmakers are working on bills that would open the state’s medical cannabis registry to more patients, but those who have post-traumatic stress disorder might not make the list.
A key state House committee has endorsed letting people join the registry if they have AIDS or HIV, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, autoimmune disease, the painful skin disease epidermolysis bullosa, peripheral neuropathy, Tourette’s syndrome or those who are in a hospice program. But they did not endorse PTSD, which was part of an earlier draft of the bill.
“The condition (PTSD) is real. It’s just the fact that we didn’t have a definition to it,” said state Rep. Rich Golick, R-Smyrna, before his House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee approved its version of House Bill 65 on Monday. But Golick also said that if a tight definition were proposed, it could and should deserve consideration.
State Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, the original author of the bill, said he was disappointed that PTSD was removed, but he’s hopeful there might be a chance of adding it back at some point.
“We owe our brave veterans this option,” he said.
Legislators on the other side of the state Capitol in the Senate have passed a very different bill on the same topic, though. Senate Bill 16 would let patients who have autism join the medical marijuana registry and therefore legally posses a liquid made from cannabis. However, that bill also cuts the amount of THC allowed in Georgia-legal liquid medical cannabis from 5 percent to 3 percent.
THC is the main chemical in marijuana that causes a high. But medical marijuana advocates say that cut would amount to going backward, and that some patients need the higher level of THC.
It’s possible that the House and Senate versions of the bill will end up in a conference committee — delegated to a group of lawmakers who negotiate a compromise.
There has not yet been a hearing on legislation that would set up a public vote on medical marijuana cultivation. Peake, who is also author of House Resolution 36, wants cultivation so that Georgia patients have an easier way to get medical cannabis. The federal prohibition on all cannabis products makes both patients in Georgia and companies in marijuana-legal states wary of transacting across state lines.
Nearly 1,300 Georgians have joined the state medical cannabis registry.
Maggie Lee: @maggie_a_lee