While Georgia’s measly medical marijuana law forces patients to become drug traffickers in order to get their hands on a non-intoxicating form of cannabis oil, Governor Nathan Deal remains apprehensive about supporting any measure that would allow CBD strains to be produced in-state.
In a recent interview with the Telegraph, Deal said he does not “think we have sufficient information or ability to control something of that nature if we start production and processing here in our state.”
The governor’s attitude on this issue could pose a problem for lawmakers working to establish a semi-functional medical marijuana program in the near future. Representative Allen Peake, the man responsible for introducing the 2015 CBD-only bill, is reportedly on the verge of introducing legislation that would permit cannabis oil to be manufactured in Georgia.
As it stands, patients with a medical marijuana recommendation from a licensed physician can be in possession of up to 20 fluid ounces of cannabis oil as long as it consists of less than 5 percent THC. However, the state does not allow cultivation, so patients must smuggle the product into Georgia from a legal state, such as Colorado. And while the law technically protects these people from a law enforcement shakedown in the state of Georgia, it does nothing to shield them from federal drug charges if they happen to get caught transporting a derivative of the cannabis plant across state lines.
It is this detriment to the safety of Georgia patients that Peake believes could be enough to persuade the governor to reconsider his position.
“I’m hoping we can provide him a compelling argument that we can minimize public safety risks while optimizing real future benefits for Georgians,” Peake said. “I am absolutely convinced that we can offer a model that would calm the fears of law enforcement and minimize any public safety issues.”
Unfortunately, in order for Peake to successfully moving this type of proposal through the State Legislature, his latest effort will mostly likely resemble Minnesota’s ultra-restrictive medical marijuana program. Last week, the lawmaker suggested that creating a system with only two licensed producers distributing pill and oils might be something that law enforcement and Governor Deal might be prepared to get behind.
Yet, even a program as limited as Minnesota’s doesn’t appear to have much of a chance at this juncture.
Earlier this year, a research committee appointed by Governor Deal traveled to Colorado to explore the possibility of bringing cannabis production to Georgia. Although the results of the report will not be published for several more weeks, Deal suggests the synopsis will reiterate his concerns that cannabis production cannot be done in “a controlled environment.”
Despite the governor’s reluctance towards providing Georgia patients with restricted access to CBD strains, the majority of the state’s population doesn’t see a problem with it. A recent poll conducted by Georgians for Freedom in Health Care found an overwhelming 84.5 percent of the respondents said cannabis production should be allowed under strict regulations.
"There is no issue in Georgia that unites our fellow citizens like this one,” Peake said. “People all across our state, young and old, black and white, need this medicine and they expect our government to create an infrastructure where they can have access to a safe and legal product."
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