During the last day of the 2018 legislative session that lasted well into the night, Georgia moves forward with medical marijuana program expansion for patients.
Last night the Georgia Senate approved an amended version of House Bill 65 (HB 65). That bill would add Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and intractable pain to the list of conditions approved for treatment with medical cannabis. Until yesterday, Senate leadership had refused to act on the bill passed by the House.
The Expansion…And The Drama
House Rep. David Clark is a Republican from Buford and supporter of House Bill 65. He is also a former Army Ranger who served in Afghanistan. Before Thursday’s vote, he chastised President of the Senate Casey Cagle for the Senate’s failure to consider the measure.
In a scathing speech, he said that Cagle was “corrupt” and “playing games” by opposing the expansion, according to local reports. He added that approving medical cannabis for use by PTSD patients would save the lives of veterans.
“If you can’t lead the Senate, then you sure can’t lead a state,” Clark said. “There are lives at stake. This isn’t a game. … People are dying.”
Casey Cagle is Georgia’s Lt. Governor as well as the President of the Senate. He is also a leading candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination for governor of the state.
Cagle apparently has a different take on the situation. In a press release that came out just last week, the lieutenant governor’s office said Cagle had “led the Senate to pass HB 65 to ensure patients across Georgia who rely on low THC medical cannabis oil will have safe, secure, and reliable access to treatment. HB 65 builds on Cagle’s vision for a high-performance health system that puts patients first, lowers costs, and increases access to quality care.”
Georgia Has Had Medical Marijuana Since 2015
Georgia approved its medical marijuana program with the passage of House Bill 1 in April 2015. Under Haleigh’s Hope Act, as the law is known, patients with approved serious medical conditions are permitted access to medicinal cannabis.
The list of qualifying conditions currently includes cancer, multiple sclerosis, ALS, Crohn’s disease, seizure disorders, and others.
The program only allows patients to use cannabis oil with a maximum of five percent THC. The law also authorized universities to research CBD oil and other cannabis therapies to treat seizure disorders in children.
Final Hit: Georgia Moves Forward With Medical Marijuana Program Expansion
House Bill 65 was passed by the Senate last night with a vote of 38-14. In addition to adding new medical conditions to the program, the measure creates a commission to study other potential changes. The group would be charged with exploring access to medical marijuana for patients and allowing cannabis cultivation in the state. The bill will become law if signed by Gov. Nathan Deal.
Last night’s action in Georgia continues a trend in American cannabis policy reform. Earlier this week, New Jersey also added to its list of qualifying medical conditions and reduced the registration fee patients are required to pay. And last week, Pennsylvania announced the next phase of its program which will increase the cannabis supply chain in the state.