Georgia Medical Cannabis Study Committee Holds First Hearing

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(APN) ATLANTA — The first of five hearings of the Georgia Medical Cannabis Joint Study Committee was held at the Georgia State Capitol, on August 27, 2014.  

mj hearing

 

 

Three expert witnesses were invited to speak: Paige Figi and Matt Cook from Colorado; and James Bell, Executive Director of Georgia Campaign for Access, Reform and Education (CARE), from Atlanta.  Figi advocates legalization for full medical cannabis, while Bell supports full legalization of cannabis; and Cook is an expert on legislation who assists states in writing legislation.

 

 

At these hearings, committee members are gathering information on medical cannabis from public testimony and expert witnesses to determine if it is appropriate to enact legislation that will allow for the prescription of medical cannabis for epilepsy and other medical conditions.

 

 

“We are going to learn from the hearings if there are other diagnoses that are worth looking at and evaluating to see if medical cannabis does provide a solution.  In a terminal illness situation, I think it is something to look at,” State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) told APN.

 

 

Figi is the mother of Charlotte Figi who was the first pediatric patient in Colorado to try Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil for seizures.  Figi testified that two and one half years ago Charlotte was suffering from Dravet syndrome, an intractable, untreatable form of epilepsy.  At age five, she had fifty seizures a day or 1,200 a month.  The family tried every conceivable medical option and eventually brought her home to die.  In desperation, they started researching cannabinoids.

 

 

After the first test trial of CBD, Charlotte went from 1,200 seizures down to one or two a month.  She received three doses of the CBD oil a day.  Today, she is off all  pharmaceutical drugs, oxygen, and feeding tubes; and she can walk and talk.

 

 

The CBD strain, which eventually became know as Charlotte’s Web, was developed in 2011 by the Stanley brothers by crossbreeding a strain of marijuana with industrial hemp.  It was low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, a psychoactive ingredient that gets one high) and high in cannabidiol (CBD, a medicinal component) and was originally called “Hippie’s Disappointment.”

 

 

A federal bill recently dropped in U.S. Congress, HR 5226, called “Charlotte’s Web Medical Hemp Act of 2014.”  It states that “therapeutic hemp and cannabidiol are excluded from the definition of marihuana  and shall not be treated as controlled substances under this Act.”   

 

 

It was introduced by U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) and has ten bipartisan co-sponsors, including two from Georgia: U.S. Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) and David Scott (D-GA).  There are several other bills in U.S. Congress dealing with medical cannabis and issues related to decriminalization and legalization.

 

 

“We need to support this bill to allow for more research,” Figi said.

 

 

“You have patients from Georgia who are medical refugees in Colorado,” Figi told the Committee.  Colorado has legalized marijuana for recreational use and for medical usage in treating epilepsy and many other medical conditions.  

 

 

Bell gave heartbreaking testimony on medical problems of other Georgians that could be helped if medical cannabis were available and legal in Georgia.  

 

 

“We want legislation that allows whole plant therapeutics, not a limited CBD oil clinical trials for a few patients.  We want help for the glaucoma patient, and the cancer patients, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, epilepsy, wasting syndrome, Crohn’s disease, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, and other medical conditions that can be treated with cannabis,” Bell told Committee Members.

 

 

People with medical conditions are taking pharmaceutical drugs, but some of those drugs are doing more harm than good, especially with opiate pain pills that are very addictive and can cause liver and kidney damage.  People want natural and safe alternative to dangerous pharmaceutical drugs.

 

 

Bell testified support for cannabis law reform is strong in Georgia.  In January 2014, a poll indicated more than 60 percent of Georgians support decriminalization of marijuana.

 

 

“We know millions of people use it daily with virtually no adverse effects.  We know 23 states allow medical use.  We know that no one has died from a toxic reaction,” Bell told the Committee.

 

 

Cook, a regulatory expert for alcohol and medical marijuana, is the founder of Cook Consulting, and has a background in public policy and enforcement.  

 

 

Some of the suggestions Cook recommended to the committee is that there’s a need for reasonable regulations.  “From a regulatory standpoint, it’s just another widget to regulate, like the alcohol industry,” Cook said.   

 

“I have assisted or written legislation in several states,” Cook told APN.

 

He recommended to the Committee that Georgia needs to cultivate, regulate, and distribute the medical cannabis in-state with limited licenses.

 

He testified the industry needs accountability for the product and it needs to be tracked from seed to sale.  All the demographics have seen a significant increase in overall support for marijuana.  The industry has been around for a hundred years and is a multi-billion dollar industry.

 

“If you know where it’s at and know who is growing, you can regulate.  If you don’t regulate it’s going to end up on the black market… but if you over-regulate and over-tax this industry, you will push people to the black market,” Cook warned.

 

The Prescription of Medical Cannabis for Serious Medical Conditions Joint Study Committee was created by SR 981 during the 2014 Legislative Session.  Committee Members include: State Sen. Renee Unterman, Co-Chair, (R-Buford);  Rep. Peake, Co-Chair;  Sen. Dean Burke (R–Bainbridge); Sen. Butch Miller (R– Gainesville); Sen. Curt Thompson (D–Tucker); Rep. Rich Golick (R–Smyrna); Rep. Micah Gravley (R–Douglasville); and Rep. Margaret Kaiser (D–Atlanta).   Also on the committee are two non-legislative members: Matthews Gwynn, M.D., Neurology, and Chuck Spahos, Executive Director, Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia.

 

Committee members plan to hold other meetings at Mercer University, September 10; Georgia Gwinnett State College, October 01; Georgia Regents University, October 22; and again at Georgia State Capitol on November 12, 2014, for public testimony.

(END/2014)

3 comments

  • I just want to add that there are those of us who would not be considered as “critically ill” but that if I have to make a personal choice to continue on pain medication for the rest of my life (due to failed back surger with nerve impindgement) or to smoke or ingest marijuana to stop the chronic muscle spasms and migranes then I will choose to smoke or ingest marijuana. This is a personal choice not a government decision. I work full time and support my granddaughter in College. I am a productive citizen and not a disabled person so I feel that I should be heard as well as those who are incapacitated by their illness. Pain management clinics and all the concern for MD’s who continue to get us all dependent on pain medicenes cause more problems than growing and cultivating marijuana.

  • I’m a Scientist with a strong interest in Cancer research. The evidence of the value of Marijuana as a life saving medicine is now so strong that the need to remove Marijuana from Schedule 1 has become a moral imperative.

    This weekend over 3,000 Americans died, in pain, of Cancer. Today, tomorrow, and every day after that, 1,500 more Americans will die, after suffering horribly, from it. Every single minute another American dies of Cancer. Every American Cancer patient deserves the right to have safe, legal, and economical access to Medical Marijuana. Every single one.

    Americans who need Medical Marijuana shouldn’t be used as “Political Footballs” Please call the Whitehouse comment line at (202) 456-1111 and ask that the President take immediate action to remove Marijuana from Schedule 1 so American Physicians in all 50 states can prescribe it. Go to petitions.whitehouse.gov — there are two petitions you can sign electronically there, one to take Marijuana off of Schedule 1 — https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/remove-whole-cannabis-plant-schedule-1-medical-research-patient-access/vjzmSRS3 other to legalize it completely — https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/full-legalization-marijuana-united-states-america/4J1C5skR
    Oncologists have know it for more than a quarter of a Century that Marijuana is a “wonder drug” for helping Cancer patients.

    The American Society of Clinical Oncologists wants Marijuana removed from Schedule 1. So does the American Medical Association, the professional society of all Physicians. A strong majority of Americans want Physicians in all 50 states to be able to prescribe Medical Marijuana. So do their Physicians., Cancer patients can’t wait.

    The need to immediately, completely, legalize Marijuana throughout the world is one of the most pressing moral issues of our time, because of its medical benefits and because of the damage prohibition causes to America and to the world.

    Complete legalization is critical — its vital that there aren’t “strings” or “hoops” that Cancer patients and others who need Medical Marijuana are forced to jump through.

    “Charlottes web” is NOT the solution. Cancer patients and people who suffer from chronic pain need THC, not just CBD. The “Berkeley study”, where 96% of stage 4 Cancer patients who had a wide variety of Cancers achieved remission, used high dose Medical Marijuana oil, 72% THC, 28% CBD, 1 gram/day (oral) over a 90 day course of treatment. It was a small study, and not placebo controlled, but those kinds of results are clearly remarkable, have been widely reported on in the press, and demand the need for immediate large scale clinical trials.

    More and more present and former members of law enforcement agree about the need to end prohibition, and have formed a rapidly expanding group of current and former undercover cops, FBI, DEA, prosecutors and Judges, from all over the world, called

    LEAP — Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

    because they’ve seen the damage prohibition causes to America and the world.

    See http://www.leap.cc/

    I’m a Scientist. Not a politician, not a cop.

    But as a Scientist with a strong interest in Cancer research, I feel even more strongly about the need to ensure that no Cancer patient is denied it, because I’m so impressed with its benefits for Cancer patients.

    I urge everyone reading this to PLEASE call and email the Attorney General, the press, Congress and the President today.

    Medical Marijuana helps with Alzheimer’s, Autism, Cancer, seizures, PTSD and chronic pain, and has helped many Americans, including many veterans, stop using Alcohol, and hard drugs, both legal and illegal ones.

    Every minute an American dies of Cancer.

    Every 19 minutes an American dies of a prescription drug overdose.

    Many vets become addicted to prescription opiates and die from them.

    NOBODY has ever died from smoking too much pot.

    Cancer patients are seeing remarkable results using high dose Medical Marijuana oil, in many cases achieving complete remission, even for stage 4 cancers — there are many excellent articles on the web, and videos on youtube with patient’s personal stories about their experiences with it — and every Cancer patient that uses Marijuana to ease their suffering benefits greatly from doing so.

    It is immoral to leave Marijuana illegal, for anyone, for even a second longer.

    For Cancer patients, its a matter of life and death.

    Cancer patients can’t wait.

    Medical Marijuana has an unmatched safety profile, and for people who suffer from so many diseases, of so many kinds, its a medical miracle — and the scientific evidence behind it is rock solid.

    For Cancer patients, Medical Marijuana encourages apoptosis and autophagy of Cancer cells, while leaving normal cells untouched, is anti-angigogenic, anti-proliferative, and is anti-angiogenic.

    Its also synergistic with chemotherapy and radiation therapy, making both more effective.

    For many Cancer patients its meant the difference between life and death.

    For everyone else, its a far safer alternative to Alcohol, and infinitely safer than Cigarettes.

    Either take them off the market too, or legalize Marijuana right now.

    2016 is too far away, Its too long to wait. Every year we lose more Americans to Cancer than died in WWII.

    Between now and the 2016 elections, roughly 1 MILLION Americans will die of Cancer.

    And Its a horrible way to die.

  • Georgia should continue locking up pot smokers and build new prisons to hold them. While universities are magnets for parties and mayhem, prisons bring serenity to communities and prison labor keeps the roads clean.

    Then there are the sheriffs who enjoy opening vagina lips searching for marijuana. You really need to ignore the Surgeon General who yesterday said that marijuana has medical use and listen to the money laundering Pope at the Vatican Bank.

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