Medical marijuana bill falls short in state senate

On Apr. 4, the Georgia Senate shot down a bill to legalize the production and manufacturing of medical marijuana through the cultivation and selling of cannabis and cannabis oil by a 28-27 decision. 


The proposed bill would have granted companies the immediate ability to grow and sell cannabis. 


Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler spoke on behalf of the companies lacking this privilege asking for “Everybody to have an opportunity to obtain a license.” 


In addition to granting these companies the legal ability to produce cannabis, pre-approved patients would be able to legally purchase cannabis in the form of the herb and oil. 


In 2015, Georgia doctors began approving patients for cannabis treatment. There are currently 22,000 patients approved and waiting for these treatments, but there is no infrastructure to fulfill these treatments. 


Since the Senate bill was not passed, these patients will have to wait even longer than the seven years they have up to this point. 


The tabling of this bill isn’t the end of the story. While this legislation that would have allowed any licensed company to produce cannabis products for medical treatments did not pass, it gave a special exception to six corporations. 


This exception would allow only these companies to cultivate and sell cannabis. 


The Senate selected these companies from a bid that was done in secrecy and recorded on redacted documents. The Senate selected the six companies at the discretion of Governor Brian Kemp, Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan and Speaker of the House David Ralston.


The six corporations that received the exclusive ability to cultivate and sell cannabis have not been released to the public yet. 


This fact has made it difficult for those in the media and the public to investigate the motives behind the selection process. 


This legislation has led to an outcry from the public and businesses that were not on this exclusive list. 


This ordeal has led to investigations into the Medical Marijuana Commission of Georgia and potential ties between certain elected officials and marijuana manufacturers.


While marijuana remains illegal in every capacity within Georgia, the peach state is still a large consumer of the drug. 


This fact is especially true in the metro-Atlanta area. Non-violent drug offenses also remain relatively high.


The unrestricted  right for companies to produce cannabis in a medical context is seen as the  first step toward the total legalization of marijuana. 


As long as the bureaucracy behind these decisions remains opaque, tens of thousands of patients will go without treatment and thousands more will face the wrong side of the law for their actions.