Georgia lawmakers have devised a clever scheme to provide patients with the illusion of an expansion to the state’s medical marijuana law without actually giving those suffering from debilitating conditions access to cannabis products.
The state legislature recently passed a bill aimed at increasing the threshold of cannabis oil possession for more patients, but not before slaughtering it in committee to exclude cultivation and other vital aspects that could have given Georgia patients legal access to the medicine.
Although there was some promise in the beginning that Representative Allen Peake’s latest proposal (House Bill 722) had a fair shot at bringing a controlled medical marijuana industry to the Empire of the South, a temper tantrum thrown by Georgia law enforcement and Governor Nathan Deal ultimately forced legislators to carve up the bill.
Earlier last week, the House Judiciary Committee announced that it was cutting a portion of the bill that would have allowed weed to be grown and sold in the state to those suffering from a variety of conditions.
Although members of the committee assured Peake that the amendment was necessary in order for the bill to make it out of the state legislature alive, the lawmaker argued that this slashing of the cultivation component meant death for the primary objective—protecting patients from getting into trouble with Uncle Sam—even if it went on to become law.
"That was the heart of the bill," Peake said during the hearing. “I feel like cast of The Walking Dead. I must look like I've been disemboweled here."
Even by the typical baby step standards, the most recent version of the proposal is a worthless excuse for a medical marijuana upgrade. The bill’s only power—provided it goes the distance—is to expand the state’s patient registry program and embrace those suffering from a handful of conditions, including autism and HIV/AIDS, allowing them to join patients with cancer and epilepsy in becoming federal drug traffickers by smuggling low-THC cannabis oil into the state.
In 2015, Representative Peake and Governor Deal negotiated an easier-to-swallow version of a medical marijuana proposal that would give patients with specific conditions the authority to have in their possession cannabis oil with no more than 5 percent THC. However, in order for these registered patients to get their hands on the medicine, they first had to purchase it from a legal state, like Colorado, and transport it across state lines.
Of course, Governor Deal was not concerned that his requested amendment would put some Georgia patients at risk of being prosecuted by the federal government for transporting a Schedule I drug—an offense that often comes with a prison term. That is exactly the risky situation that Peake’s latest proposal could have remedied. Yet, the Georgia Sheriffs Association managed to persuade the governor that growing weed across the state would lead to an increase in crime and drug addiction—hence the bill’s modifications.
Nevertheless, the House of Representatives approved this worthless bill on Monday in a vote of 152 to 8. It now moves on to the Senate for consideration.
Georgia patients should not be excited.
(Photo Courtesy of Hemp for Fitness)
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