Medical Marijuana Bill Passes Major Senate Committee In Georgia
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ATLANTA | After more than four hours of haggling and sometimes rancorous debate, Georgia’s powerful Senate Health and Human Services Committee this week passed its own version of a House bill that seeks to allow the use of medical marijuana to treat eight medical conditions, deleting only one diagnosis in a measure pushed by state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon.
Peake’s bill, which passed overwhelmingly in the state House, included the use of cannabis oil to treat cancer, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Mitochondrial disease, Fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s disease and sickle cell anemia. The Senate’s committee deleted Fibromyalgia from that list.
The measure now goes to the full Senate.
Peake expressed disappointment that the Senate committee crossed out Fibromyalgia, but hopes this version of the bill wins the signature of Gov. Nathan Deal.
State Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, chairwoman of Health and Human Services, had to warn the packed hearing room in the Capitol to keep quiet and at one point threatened to remove groaning audience members.
Unterman said Deal wants a medical marijuana bill.
The state Senate previously passed a bill setting up a five-year study for people under 21 with epilepsy, but that research only recently got underway.
Peake pleaded for the committee to pass his bill intact.
The vote finally came after testimony by physicians and scientists from across the nation ‑some on favor and others vehemently against the bill.
Some witnesses said the state would be wrong to pass any type of bill that could in theory open the door to Colorado-style legalization.
Others, namely parents wishing to legally use the oil to treat their suffering children, pushed to pass the legislation.
Katie McCoy, who said she has three children with listed conditions, cited studies conducted in other countries she said prove cannabis can help.
Much of the testimony proved confusing. Physicians and committee members debated the percentage of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, needed to be effective, citing often contradictory scientific studies.
The Senate committee substitute, like Peake’s, settled on a level of 5 percent THC. Unterman pledged to set up a state-controlled mechanism to control the percentage and to make sure no patient with any illness receives more than 20 ounces of cannabis oil.
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