Cannabis Oil; Full Legalization Bills Pre-Filed for 2015 Legislative Session
Up for consideration in Georgia are a total of three pre-filed bills: State Rep. Allen Peake’s (R-Macon) House Bill 1, and State Sen. Curt Thompson’s Senate Bill 7 and Senate Resolution 6.
SB 7 and HB 1 are medicinal marijuana programs, while SR 6 is Thompson’s attempt at full legalization.
There are currently 23 U.S. states, plus Washington, DC, that have effective medical cannabis laws, including Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
There are also currently four states that have legalized cannabis altogether, including Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.
Peake’s bill provides for legalization of medicinal strains in an oil form, while Thompson’s allows for consumption in whole plant form.
Both CBD and THC, or cannabinoids, offer great benefits for patients suffering from a vast array of aliments. The cannabinoid THC, however, contains psychoactive properties, whereas CBD’s do not.
“Regardless of someone’s socio-economic level, they should have access to medicines that can help them; their quality of life is the issue here,” Thompson told Atlanta Progressive News. “This will be modeled after the Arizona program.”
Prop 203 passed in Arizona by 50.13 percent in 2010, allowing patients to have 2.5 ounces of usable medicine on hand, and up to twelve plants. Arizona also allows cards from other states that have medicinal programs.
According to Thompson’s bill: “If the qualifying patient’s registry identification card provides that the qualifying patient is authorized to cultivate marijuana plants, eight marijuana plants contained in an enclosed, locked facility,” are permitted.
The ailments covered under Thompson’s bill include “Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, or the treatment of such conditions; a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe and chronic pain; severe nausea; seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis; or any other medical condition or its treatment added by the department pursuant to 105 Code Section 43-34-122.1”.
A legalization bill presented by Thompson is also up for consideration.
“Senator Thompson and I are not at odds with each other. I respect his right to introduce legislation. His [legalization] bill helps and hurts us; it muddies the water for the average citizen. They are two distinct, separate bills with a clear distinction of two different paths. I won’t go down the path of recreational, or full legalization,” Representative Peake told APN.
While Peake’s medicinal legislation does not include full plants, it does include a dispensary piece, although it is very restrictive.
“Patients would go to a qualified doctor and recommend cannabis oil as a possible treatment to the patient; the patient would register with Department of Public Health for their medicinal card, then they can go to a license retail center. There will be cap for the number of licensed growers, processors, and retailers probably five or six. One owner could have multiple locations in the state. We will not go towards an at-home growing program. Patients will not be allowed to grow,” Peake said.
The issue of letting patients or caregivers of patients grow their own medicine is a point of contention. Some patients have little ability to leave their house to visit a dispensary and if they do not have an assigned caregiver, finding medicine may be very difficult.
The language for HB 1 has not been solidified but will include language about aliments.
“Cancer and glaucoma, allowed under State law, along with seizure and epilepsy. ALS and chronic pain are also being looked at. The threshold of THC that everyone is comfortable with opens the door for opportunities regarding diagnosis. You can’t say ‘I’ve got a headache, I can take medical cannabis, that’s not what we want,’” Peake told APN.
“We were concerned that [Peake’s] bill was too narrow,” Thompson said.
Meanwhile, full legalization, it seems, is a long shot.
“His referendum… is almost dead on arrival. There is not the appetite for that at the Legislature; the Governor has said he is not interested in the path like Colorado has taken,” Peake said.
“Thompson has thrown it out there as matter of ‘just seeing.’ I’ve angered enough people on both sides of the aisle to know I’m doing a good job. We have got a ‘mommy lobby’ of moms who have children with seizure disorders that have done an incredible job at the Legislature. They’ve done a phenomenal job and are the inspiration for this bill. It’s clear the public wants this,” Peake said.
“I’m a mother activist. We all want the children to have medicine and not have to move to Colorado. Some have moved and are getting both CBD and THC therapy, and it’s working for them,” Sharon Ravert, Executive Director of Peachtree NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) said.
“It’s been a dog and pony show. A lot of people were open to listening to science and doctors during the Committee hearing [last year],” Ravert said.
“We’re in a rock and a hard place. They are scared about the word, ‘high.’ These children and adults are getting high on pharmaceuticals. It’s a battle between synthetic versus natural and herbal. People are trying to get away from pharmaceuticals. They want to bring the pharmaceutical industry to extract the CBD oil; what about the rest of the plant? It can be used. It’s just insane. What is the problem with feeling good? Why do our leaders have a hard time with patients feeling good, even for little while?” Ravert told APN.
Peake’s bill, unlike last year, would include THC oils as well as CBD oils, for the same reason mentioned by Sen. Thompson. “This bill includes CBD oils and some THC. We want to benefit as many people as possible and by including some THC oils for patients, we can do that,” Peake said.
Ravert couldn’t say if Peachtree NORML would be for Peake’s bill or not, but she did tell APN that if both CBD and THC oils were not a part of Peake’s legislation, they would oppose it.
“We would love for them to come up with something beautiful to support all people,” Ravert said.
According to Peake, the votes are there for his legislation; Thompson assumes they are there for his medicinal program as well.
Last year, over 30,000 people were arrested in Georgia for possession of marijuana.