Enabling access to marijuana has become the source of some congressional topics in Georgia.
Two medical marijuana bills and one recreational marijuana resolution will be heard in the 2015 – 2016 Georgia General Assembly session. The state’s assembly session began on Monday, Jan. 12.
House Bill 1 (HB1) and Senate Bill 7 (SB7) are the current medical marijuana bills to be heard during the legislative session. Recreational marijuana legislation Senate Resolution 6 (SR6) will also be heard, according to the Georgia General Assembly’s website.
HB 1: on regulated use of medical marijuana
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|The 2013 – 2014 session’s marijuana legislations
Allen Peake, a Republican congressman, was a sponsor of the 2013-2014 session’s HB 885. The bill would amend the Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act to continue medical cannabis research as it relates to treating cancer and glaucoma.The House voted in favor for the bill with 171 votes on March 3, 2014. The Senate also voted in favor of the bill with 54 votes and adopted it as a substitute on March 20, 2014, according to Georgia General Assembly’s website.HB 885 eventually died in the state’s assembly after the Senate and House passed different versions of the bill, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
Democratic senator Curt Thompson also proposed SB 432, which would allow marijuana to be used for treating cancer and glaucoma. The bill was read in the Senate and referred on March 12, 2014, according to Georgia General Assembly’s website.
Since SB 432 was filed after the Crossover Day, it died for the 2013-2014 session, according to Georgia Care Project.
Crossover Day refers to the 30th day of a state’s 40-day session. On that day, legislations unable to get through Georgia’s House or Senate die.
HB 1, Haleigh’s Hope Act, calls for the regulated use of medical marijuana to treat health conditions and was prefiled by Allen Peake, a Republican congressman, according to the state assembly’s website.
In HB 1, smoking marijuana is not permitted. Instead, liquid, pill and injection deliveries are permitted, according to HB 1’s legislation.
Peake said smoking in general has been medically proven to be harmful to the lungs.
“We have also been concerned about the perception of approving a bill that legalized smoking marijuana,” he said.
Peake also said the main differences between HB 1 and previous medical marijuana bills is how the substance is allowed to be grown.
“This bill will allow for growing, processing, and dispensing of cannabis oil in a tightly restricted, very regulated infrastructure with private businesses. Last year’s bill only allowed this growth at academic medical centers,” he said.
SB 7: on allowed possession of medical marijuana
The Controlled Substances Therapeutic Relief Act (SB 7) allows patients to possess two ounces of usable marijuana. It was was prefiled by Curt Thompson, a Democratic senator.
Qualifying persons can also grow marijuana plants, according to the General Assembly’s website.
Caregivers of the qualifying patient must be at least 21 and would be allowed to possess two ounces of usable marijuana and grow the substance, according to SB7.
The main difference between both SB7 and HB 1, is that SB7 allows for medical marijuana to be distributed by a physician in various forms besides cannabis oil, according to Thompson.
“Marijuana has two basic properties that get used as far as treating serious illnesses. One is cannabinoids and the other is THC,” Thompson said. “What it leaves up to the physician and the patient, is the format.”
Thompson said SB7 is reintroducing a bill he previously introduced during the 2012-2014 session. He also said the bill was based on the types of legislations other states have approved.
SR 6: on purchase and sales of recreational marijuana
SR 6 would allow people over 21 years old the ability to purchase limited amounts of marijuana. The resolution was also prefiled by Thompson on Nov. 24, according to the Georgia General Assembly’s website.
The taxes and fees from the substance’s sales would go to education and transportation infrastructure, according to SR 6.
Thompson said the passing of SR 6 is to the discretion of Georgia’s voters.
“If SR 6 passess there would be a referendum probably in 2016 general election when folks are voting for president,” he said. “And then if it passed, there I guess it would take, just looking at what is happening in other states, about a year to actually ramp up by about 2017 if they choose to approve it.”
Students’ opinions of the legislations
Taylor Price, a sophomore sociology major at Georgia State, said her grandmother suffers from cancer and doesn’t see a problem with medical marijuana legislation being implemented within the state.
Price said she supports SR 6 if DUI and regulatory laws are created for it. She also said it would be beneficial if taxes are gained from recreational marijuana sales.
“Also, it would probably help give the police other things to focus on. But if you give someone an inch they’ll take a mile,” Price said. “I feel in the future people will start lobbying for more hardcore drugs if the pass it [SR 6].”
Georgia State sophomore student Christy Tarallo said she is familiar with HB 1 and SB 7 and does not like the idea of medicinal marijuana use.
“There are alternatives to the drug already available on the market, but the appeal of using a once taboo and illegal substance is too great for ‘hipsters’ to pass up. Considering some side effects such as impaired driving and use of machinery, it doesn’t differ much from many prescribed drugs now. So in that regard there isn’t much of a difference,” Tarallo said. “However, studies have shown that ‘Doobies Make Boobies.’ In other words, the condition known as ‘gynecomastia,’ female breast development in males, is common in users.”
Tarallo also said she strongly disapproves of recreational marijuana use.
“Recreational users are almost always literally just looking for a high and in that case if SR 6 is passed, I sincerely hope they heavily tax marijuana and use that revenue to help college students pay for school,” she said.
Tarallo said if recreational marijuana becomes legal she will not take part in it.
“But that doesn’t mean I won’t have to walk through puffs of that awful smell while walking through the plaza. And considering the rudeness of cigarette smokers now who blow smoke in other people’s faces, I am dreading the day that marijuana may become legal,” she said.
She also said she predicts HB 1, SB 7 and SR 6 will not pass since Georgia’s House of Representatives and Senate is heavily populated by Republican members.
“Georgia politicians still cling to their traditional ideals and though Allen Peake, a Republican from Macon, is the sponsor of HB 1, I believe that most Republicans in Georgia will be against the passage of the bill,” Tarallo said. “And if the GA House of Representatives and Senate happen to pass the bill, be assured that Nathan Deal will not even entertain the idea.”