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Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 11:31am

Governor Deal Announces Two Paths For Medical Marijuana Research In Georgia

Georgia's 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.

Thursday afternoon, Governor Nathan Deal announced two potential pathways for medical marijuana in Georgia.

One option, Deal explained, would be for Georgia Regents University (GRU) to partner with a private pharmaceutical company to expand clinical trials of cannabis oil to some Georgia patients. The company, GW Pharmaceuticals, is based in the United Kingdom and according to its website, offers a wide range of cannabinoid medications.

The second involves development of a state trial led by GRU using cannabis oil obtained from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) farm in Mississippi.

The governor said he spoke directly with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which expressed a willingness to work with the state to reach its goal of doing research on medical marijuana. Some lawmakers had expressed concerns that a proposal to allow the state's research institutions to produce and test marijuana products could jeopardize their federal funding. But the FDA's blessing would eliminate that threat.

Representative Allen Peake (R-Macon), who sponsored the medical marijuana bill, called the plans a great first step, although neither pathway would provide immediate relief for children suffering from seizures.

Gov. Deal addressed the failed medical marijuana legislation, saying the two clinical trials set the groundwork for what the state needs to know about cannabis oil in the future.

“Even if the legislation passed, we would still have to deal with the implementation phase,” said Deal.

The future of medical marijuana treatment for others in Georgia doesn’t look so bright. The governor says the trials are currently focusing only on pediatric seizure disorders.