Legislators are considering arguments in favor of medical marijuana in Georgia. At an open hearing at Mercer University Wednesday, people got a chance to tell a panel of lawmakers why they think the time to legalize medical marijuana is right.
About 14 people spoke to the panel at the second of five planned open hearings.
The lawmaker behind a bill to legalize medical marijuana for seizure patients said Wednesday the state should go one step further.
Earlier this year, Representative Allen Peake, R-Macon, championed a bill that would legalize cannabis oil for patients with seizure disorders. That effort ultimately failed in the final hours of the 2014 legislative session.
Peake's resolve, however, did not.
Representative Peake and other members of the new Medical Cannabis Study Committee met for the first time at the state Capitol Wednesday. The committee heard testimony from Paige Figi, a Colorado mother whose daughter Charlotte has become a symbol of the medical marijuana fight.
Although Colorado has become a popular destination for families seeking medical marijuana to treat children’s seizures, that state’s public health chief has some strong words of caution for parents. He said more data are needed on the safety and efficacy of cannabidiol oil, a non-psychoactive marijuana derivative, to treat seizures in children.
Gov. Nathan Deal has directed his community health commissioner to do something for rural hospitals, nine of which have closed in Georgia since 2000, leaving whole communities without quick access to emergency care.
The medical marijuana bill failed in the final hours of this year’s legislative session, but children with seizure disorders may now have a glimmer of hope that lawmakers will revisit the issue of cannabis oil next year. Thursday afternoon, Governor Nathan Deal announced two pathways for medical marijuana in the Georgia. The governor said he spoke directly with the FDA, who expressed willingness to work with the state to reach its goal of researching for medical marijuana, although neither pathway would provide immediate relief for children suffering from epilepsy.
Governor Nathan Deal will announce what his office called “paths forward” this afternoon for cannabis oil and a foster care pilot project. A media advisory on the Governor’s news conference was vague, but many activists have called for Deal to take executive action after lawmakers failed to pass legislation addressing both issues this session.
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said Wednesday that parents in Georgia should not have to fear prosecution if they use medical marijuana derivatives to treat their children who suffer from intractable seizures. He called on the state’s prosecutors not to charge families who possess the derivative.
Georgia lawmakers have made it through one of the quickest legislative sessions in recent memory. Along the way, they passed bills limiting healthcare coverage for abortion, expanding where you can bring a gun and barring a Governor from expanding Medicaid. Lawmakers gaveled out of the 2014 session at midnight, per their custom, but not before battling over the gun bill. Republicans (and some Democrats) were split on how broad the legislation should be.
Georgia lawmakers have now made it to the other side. That is, the other side of so-called Crossover Day, which took place Monday at the state Capitol. They are now three-quarters of the way through the 2014 legislative session, and barreling toward the end, currently scheduled for March 20. Any bill that didn’t pass one of the General Assembly’s chambers Monday won’t have a shot at becoming law in the final ten days of this year’s 40-day legislative session.