Marijuana bill moves erratically through the Senate

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Legislation legalizing the limited use of medical marijuana continues to advance in the state Senate, while dodging obstacles that keep getting put in its way.

The Senate Health & Human Services Committee voted out HB 885 on Wednesday after the committee chairman, Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), had initially balked at considering the bill.

Unterman earlier had complained that the House of Representatives was holding two of her pet bills hostage and indicated she would do the same to the marijuana bill sponsored by Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon).

But the House is moving to accommodate Unterman’s wishes on her legislation.

House members voted 166-2 Wednesday to pass SR 746, Unterman’s resolution that endorses a state plan for treating Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in elderly citizens.

The House is scheduled to vote Thursday on a related Unterman measure, SB 292, which would establish an Alzheimer’s Disease Registry within the Department of Public Health to help develop policies related to the disease.

Unterman’s committee thus gave HB 885 the go-ahead, which means the bill could potentially be placed on the Senate calendar for a floor vote on Tuesday, the next to last day of the legislative session.

There is still a complication, however. Unterman has also attached to HB 885 the language of an unrelated bill (SB 397) that would require insurance companies to cover treatments for autism.

That bill, sponsored by Sen. Tim Golden (R-Valdosta), passed the Senate unanimously on Feb. 25 but has run into tougher sledding in the House.

In its current form, HB 885 would require House acceptance of the autism coverage bill if the medical marijuana bill is to reach final passage.

© 2014 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Allen Peake , autism coverage , medical marijuana , Renee Unterman , Tim Golden