Senate passes medical marijuana bill

[private]The Georgia Senate voted 48-6 Tuesday to pass HB 1, a bill that has been two years in the making and would legalize the use of marijuana derivatives for medical treatments.

HB 1 combines most of the provisions in medical marijuana bills that have already been adopted by the Senate and House of Representatives.

The bill would authorize the use of cannabis oil that consists of no more than 5 percent THC to be used in the treatment of these medical conditions: cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, mitochondrial disease, Parkinson’s disease and sickle cell disease.

“There are many families temporarily living out of state, medical refugees if you will, in order to buy this medical extract,” said Sen. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville).

The passage of HB 1 “will enable these medical refugees to come home, and that’s what this is all about,” Miller said. “Now is the time, now is the place.”

“We need to get the 17 families, the medical refugees, home from Colorado, and this bill will do that,” said Sen. Ben Watson (R-Savannah), a physician.

Miller’s presentation of HB 1 during Senate debate was a signal that Gov. Nathan Deal might be willing to sign the bill – Miller is Deal’s floor leader in the Senate.

“This is something (the separation of families) that we in the Senate, and in the House, and the governor by his signature can eradicate,” Miller said.

Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) cautioned senators against passing the bill, saying there was no scientific evidence that proved the effectiveness of cannabis oil in treating conditions like childhood seizures.

“I can’t support this unscientific approach to the problem,” Hufstetler said.

A series of amendments that might have weakened the bill were voted down, with one exception, by a majority of the senators.

Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), who’s been leading the effort to legalize medical marijuana for the last two sessions, indicated last week he thought this version of his bill represented a “good agreement.”

If Peake can persuade his House colleagues to accept the Senate substitute, the bill can proceed to Deal’s desk.

“I would hope that they (the House) would agree with the bill so we can send it on to the governor and resolve this issue,” Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said.

© 2015 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Allen Peake , Ben Watson , Butch Miller , medical marijuana