Georgia Medical Cannabis Oil Bill Passes House Committee
On February 23, 2015, the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee unanimously passed HB 1, Haleigh’s Hope Act.
“This is not an indication of a slippery slope but, in my mind, a compassionate reach to our citizens,” State Rep. Allen Peake (R – Macon), who authored the bill, said at the committee meeting.
The bill would decriminalize possession of medical cannabis oil for patients who suffer certain illnesses, have authorization, and who obtain the product from a state where its manufacture is legal.
Several amendments to the bill were discussed, and two were adopted.
An earlier version of the bill allowed for cannabis oil with a five percent THC level, but this had been changed in a more recent draft to three percent, in order to increase its chances of passing the full House.
The Committee approved an amendment to reinstate the five percent level.
Another amendment that passed limits the personal information that police can access when verifying a patient’s medical cannabis authorization.
An important amendment that failed would have reinstated illnesses that were included in an earlier version of the legislation, but were removed after law enforcement agencies expressed concern over the bill’s scope.
“While I’m supportive of including as many condition as possible, I think the list we have is the most expeditious one,” Committee Chairman Rich Golick (R – Smyrna) said.
The bill currently includes seizure disorders, Lou Gehrig’s disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s disease, mitochondrial disease, and Crohn’s Disease.
Committee members discussed other details that will likely be included in amendments before the full House.
State Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) seems intent on amending the bill to give Georgia Drug and Narcotics Agency oversight of medical cannabis in a manner similar to prescription drugs. But this did not pass as an amendment.
And several lawmakers discussed adding language to ensure that patients covered by the bill are allowed to use cannabis oil in hospitals and other medical facilities.
Patients who could benefit from medical cannabis attended the hearing with family members.
Miranda Sievert suffers from debilitating seizures as a result of her epilepsy. She and her mother moved to Colorado to access cannabis treatment, while her father and two brothers remain in Georgia. Both Sievert and her mother were present at the meeting.
“There are families who we are trying to bring back home,” Rep. Peake said.