Politics & Government

House approves modest medical cannabis bill

Rep. Allen Peake
Rep. Allen Peake AP

ATLANTA -- The state House has overwhelmingly approved a bill to expand Georgia's medical cannabis registry to more patients, though the bill's sponsor said it does not go far enough.

By 152 to 8, the House voted to add seven diagnoses including autism, HIV, AIDS and post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of diagnoses that entitle Georgians to join the medical cannabis registry and possess a form of liquid cannabis to treat their symptoms.

The author of the bill, state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, tried to convince his colleagues to approve a much broader early version of the bill that would have licensed medical cannabis cultivation in Georgia.

"Clearly, I didn't make a strong enough case," said Peake on Monday morning as he presented the stripped-down seven-page version of House Bill 722 to the House.

He said his original bill would have given Georgians access to "safe, legal, lab-tested" cannabis oil. Now, they must source their liquid from other states, something that in most cases amounts to drug smuggling under federal law.

State Rep. Randy Nix, R-LaGrange, said the bill was "the most conflicted vote" he has faced in 10 years.

"My heart says vote yes, maybe you can provide hope for someone," Nix told the House. "My head and my gut say we're going down the wrong road ... we're telling them (patients) they can do something that is still illegal?"

Nix ended up voting for the bill but said he expects Peake to fight as hard against marijuana legalization as he has fought for medical cannabis.

Peake opposes recreational marijuana but said the issue of medical cannabis cultivation is not going away.

The bill now moves to the state Senate.

Check back at macon.com or read Tuesday's Telegraph for more on this story. To contact writer Maggie Lee, e-mail mlee@macon.com

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