Rep. Peake’s HB 722, In-State Cultivation, Gets a Committee Hearing
(APN) ATLANTA – On Monday, January 25, 2016, patients and parents testified to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee asking for their support for HB 722, a follow-up bill to HB 1, Haleigh’s Hope Act.
HB 1 allowed possession of medical cannabis oil for eight conditions, but no legal means to access it in-state.
The bill, if passed, will allow regulated in-state cultivation of medical cannabis with a seed-to-sell tracking system.
“The grow facility will have more cameras than a casino,” State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), author of the bill, said.
The grow facility will be modeled after the Minnesota Medical Cannabis Model, the most regulated and restricted model in the United States.
The bill proposes two to six license growers granted to those with the background and experience to set up a vertical model to grow, process, and distribute the product in Georgia.
The product will be administered by liquid, pill, or oil, and no THC limits or minimum ratios, which would be left up to the doctor, not law enforcement.
Currently there are eight diagnoses that are legal in Georgia. HB 722 will add the following nine diagnoses: glaucoma, Tourette’s Syndrome, Epidermolysis Bullosa, Terminal Illness, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Autism AIDS, Alzheimer’s, and Intractable Pain.
The definition of Intractable Pain is pain in which the cause of the pain cannot be removed with no relief, or cure for the cause of the pain possible.
Little baby, Reid Underwood, is the poster child for intractable pain. He was born with a rare genetic skin disease, Epidermolysis Bullosa, where part of the skin is missing from his legs, arms, and other areas of this body.
APN reported earlier on his story, and the severe daily pain he endures, where the slightest bump can cause additional skin to fall off.
Other heartbreaking stories of patients suffering were told in raw detail.
Jennifer Conforti testified about her five year-old daughter, Abby, who was diagnosed with severe autism at age two.
“She would bite her arm or us while in a rage with tortured screaming that looked like she was demon possessed. Life was a hell on Earth,” Conforti said.
Abby could not go to a special needs school because they could not handle her rages and were afraid of her.
“I broke the law and got medical cannabis for my daughter and weaned her off most of the pharmaceutical drugs that did not help her,” Conforti said.
After only four days on medical cannabis, the rages stopped. The dosage that works for Abby is 53.9 percent THCA and 14.5 percent THC. Abby is still autistic, but is now happy, learning, and progressing at school.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) sufferers shared their struggle to find relief from pain, and reported that the CBD oil with low THC does not work for them.
The most widely prescribed compound is a 1 to 1 ratio of CBD and THC. According to clinical studies in 25 countries this is helpful for MS pain and spasticity, reported Dr. Cynthia Wetmore, Emory School of Medicine, and a member of the Medical Cannabis Commission.
“It baffles me why the THC level is such a big concern,” Shannon Cloud, with Georgians for Freedom in Health Care (GFHC), an advocate group for patients in Georgia who need to access medical cannabis, said.
She went on to explain that narcotic pharmaceutical drugs, like oxycodone, were not only getting children “high,” but were addictive and damaging to their health.
GFHC presented the House Committee with some amazing facts.
The number of people who died in 2014 from prescription drug overdoses: 25,760. The number of people who died from a cannabis (“marijuana”) overdose: zero.
The estimated number of registered medical cannabis patients who would enroll in Georgia– based on percentages from other medical cannabis states–is between 50,000 and 200,000 people. Georgia will probably be on the lower end due to so many restrictions.
517 patients are currently registered in the low THC, high CBD oil registry.
The estimated number of Georgians who are already using illegal cannabis on a regular basis: 700,000. Other estimates puts this number higher.
Blaine Cloud, GFHC, ask the House Committee members why they thought people using cannabis would go through a restrictive, bureaucratic, difficult process for a more expensive product, when they could get a less expensive whole plant product cheaper on the street?
“It’s insulting to me that you can’t make the distinction between medical use and recreational use of cannabis. This bill is about medical use, not recreation use,” Cloud said.
State Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) took exception to this question and feels the medical profession has been compromised in other states.
“Doctors have been prescribing cannabis in many forms that’s been for recreation use. In some states, 96 percent of prescriptions for cannabis is for chronic pain,” Rep. Setzler said.
Rep. Setzler seems to believe that chronic pain sufferers are using medical cannabis for recreational reasons, not to relieve their suffering.
“Isn’t the families and patients that need medical cannabis more important than a few people who may obtain medical cannabis for other reasons?” Cloud replied.
The fight for medical cannabis seems to be getting uglier, with one father threatening civil disobedience and breaking the law by growing his own cannabis
Mike Buffington, publisher of the Jackson Herald, has stated in editorials his plans to grow cannabis for his son, Clark, who has seizures.
Rep. Peake has said he is getting medical cannabis from other U.S. states and bringing it across state lines for a child suffering from seizures.
Gov. Nathan Deal has said that he wonders if Rep. Peake is willing to pay the price for potentially breaking the law.
Rep. Peake says he will continue helping suffering children in Georgia obtain the CBD oil.