House, Senate take different stances on medical cannabis

[private]Legislation is being introduced this week in both the House and Senate to amend Georgia’s medical marijuana law, but the two chambers are taking decidedly different directions on the issue.

Sen. Ben Watson (R-Savannah) is sponsoring SB 16, which would partially roll back the current law by reducing the allowable level of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis oil, from 5 percent to 3 percent.

Watson’s bill also adds autism spectrum disorder to the list of medical ailments for which cannabis oil can be legally used in treatment, but cannabis advocates say lowering the THC level would also reduce the effectiveness of the oil.

Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) is sponsoring two measures in the House that seek to widen rather than narrow the existing law.

He’s authored a bill that would add six more ailments to the list of eligible medical conditions: AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, intractable pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and Tourette’s syndrome.

Peake separately will introduce a constitutional amendment that would legalize the cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes. This measure would require a two-thirds vote in both chambers to pass and would put the issue on the 2018 ballot for voters to decide.

Legalizing marijuana cultivation is a high hurdle for this session, because law enforcement officials and some conservative religious groups oppose the idea. Peake would also have to overcome the fact that the Senate and Gov. Nathan Deal aren’t showing much enthusiasm for any further widening of the law.

“It’d be hard to get a cultivation bill out of here,” he acknowledged. “It’s clear that law enforcement and some faith-based groups are against cultivation. Why not let the people vote on it?”

One thing Peake does have going for him is the support of Speaker David Ralston, who created a House work force chaired by Peake to work on medical marijuana issues for this session.

© 2017 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Allen Peake , Ben Watson , medical cannabis