Georgia Marijuana Legislation Update

Georgia State student Lauran Chambless saw firsthand the benefits of medical marijuana use after her boyfriend was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. She said smoking weed helped him eat regularly and relieve his pain.
His body responded better to the illegal substance than high dosed pills, according to Chambless.

weed graphic“The doctors had him on strong pain medication and I saw him become addicted to it,” she said. “I didn’t know about the legislation but I hope it gets passed. I’ve seen firsthand how medicinal marijuana can help people.”
With there being four marijuana legislations in Georgia, residents and representatives have advocated for the legalization of cannabis.

Three legislations, House Bill 1 (HB 1), Senate Bill 7 (SB 7) and Senate Resolution 6 (SR 6) have already been traveling through Georgia’s General Assembly. Senate Bill 185 (SB 185) is a new marijuana bill being proposed.

The altered medical marijuana bill, HB 1

Ever since HB 1 was prefilled in November, the bill has been heard, altered then passed on Feb. 25 by Georgia’s House of Representatives, according to the Georgia General Assembly’s website.

Through HB 1, medical marijuana use would be permitted for patients with one of the nine qualifying conditions listed in the bill, including seizure disorders, cancer and glaucoma.

Grant Thomas, Legislative Aide for Representative Allen Peake, who is a sponsor of HB 1, said after the patient is recommended by a doctor, they would need to have a registration card from the Department of Public Health.

However, the newly altered HB 1 will not allow patients to get cannabis oil in Georgia. Instead they would have to get the drug from another state, according to Thomas.

“We are hoping that we will be able to get medical cannabis shipped to Georgia. This will prevent families from having to cross state lines to obtain the oil. It is currently illegal to transport an illegal Schedule 1 drug across state lines,” he said.

An illegal Schedule 1 drug is one that has a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical treatment use in the U.S., and is not accepted as sage under medical supervision, according to

Thomas also said the bill’s alterations helps HB 1 accomplish its two main objectives.

“The first one was to provide immunity for possession of cannabis oil for patients and families in our state so that they could begin packing and return home to Georgia,” he said. “Our second goal was to provide a way to grow, cultivate and ultimately provide cannabis oil to approved patients within our own borders.”

Additionally, he said the revised HB 1 would establish a commission charged with planning the bill’s implementation and will begin making recommendations on Dec. 31, 2015.

The provision for in state cannabis growing was removed from HB 1 but a commission to study and determine how to grow cannabis oil in Georgia was established, according to Thomas.

“Governor Deal and Representative Peake ultimately decided that we needed more time to determine how best to develop a system for growing, cultivating and distributing cannabis in our state,” he said.

The bill will be heard next by the Senate Health and Human Services committee on March 19, according to Thomas.

He said the bill may be additionally altered in the future by the Senate.

“There has been speculation that the senate wants to take out all of the conditions in HB 1 and limit the bill to only children with seizure disorders. Additionally, they have indicated that they would like to lower the THC level from 5 percent,” he said.

Recently created clinical trial marijuana bill, SB 185

On Feb. 26, SB 185 was introduced into the session by six republican representatives: Lindsey Tippens, Renee Unterman, Fran Millar, Bruce Thompson, Butch Miller and Judson Hill.

Through the bill, a program would create clinical trials for cannabidiol or cannabidiol-containing products to treat minors with medication-resistant epilepsies, according to the bill.

The bill has passed in the Senate with 137 votes in support of it on March 13, according to the assembly’s website.
There have been discussions of SB 185 and HB 1 merging, according to Thomas.

“There has been indication that SB 185 will be merged with HB 1. Representative Peake is open to this idea as the bills are not mutually exclusive,” he said.

Legalization of medical marijuana bill, SB 7

SB 7, a medical marijuana bill, was sponsored by Democratic representative Curt Thompson in November, according to the assembly’s website. Since then, it has been read and referred in the Senate on Feb. 11.

The bill would provide medical marijuana treatment for patients, dispensary locations for medical marijuana and registering of patients and caregivers of the treatment, according to the bill.

Thompson told The Signal that SB 7 would allow patients to use medical marijuana in different forms.

“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.”

All uses of marijuana bill, SR 6

SR 6 was also proposed by Representative Thompson. The bill proposes for people over 21 to be able to purchase limited amounts of marijuana, according to the bill.
The resolution was proposed in November and has been read and referred in the Senate on March 4, according to the assembly’s website.
Thompson said in The Signal’s previous article that if the bill is passed Georgia’s citizens would then vote on the bill during a referendum around when the time of the 2016 presidential elections.

“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,” he said.
Georgia State student Geoffrey Lester said he thinks the government is negligible if they did not legalize marijuana.

“I don’t think it’s the government’s place to tell people how they should deal with their pain,” he said. “…Not legalizing weed is subjecting a lot of people to unnecessary pain.”

Signal staffer Quentin Moore also contributed to this report.