The road to legalization of medicinal marijuana is a bumpy road. At one point, it seemed like the possibility of legalization was going to happen. Senator Allen Peake was pushing hard for House bill 885 which would have legalized the use of cannabis for the treatment of cancer and glaucoma. House Bill 885 did not pass because the General Assembly did not have the chance to deliberate the bill. Another bill, Senate bill 397, which would have reformed medical treatment for autistic children in Georgia was a last minute addition to HB-885 and this attachment did not fair well for both bills.
Georgia HB 885, titled Haleigh’s Hope Act was passed in the Senate 54-0 only to later have it shot down on the floor of the General Assembly. A few people though, were skeptical of this bill without some changes.
The director of Georgia C.A.R.E Project saw this coming.
“We supported HB-885 with the hope that the committee (House Health & Human Services) would identify the issues and modify the bill’, said Bell. “Without this reform the bill is dead!”
According to James Bell, a component of House Bill 885 would have given smugglers immunity from prosecution to anyone who smuggles cannabis extracts into Georgia. He claims the proposal encourages swindlers and patients to violate federal laws that could land someone in federal prison for minimum of ten years to life.
“HB-885 sets up yet another black market and jeopardizes the freedom of those seeking legal medicine’, Bell said. “We need to legalize cultivation of cannabis in Georgia. We need legislation that removes cannabis from the criminal elements.”
James Bell, a lobbyist for marijuana law reform, resentfully supported HB-885 but now will turn his attention to the 2015 legislative session and will begin to work on a new bill that allows for “legal cultivation, dispensing and doctors recommendations for cannabis use.”
Medicinal marijuana reform has gained some muscle in the past few years. Some of that muscle has came from Dr. Sanjay Gupta, an important advocate for medicinal marijuana and an influential individual being a CNN correspondent who has taken numerous trips to hospitals and laboratories hoping to understand the science behind marijuana.
“It is about emerging science that not only shows and proves what marijuana can do for the body but provides better insights into the mechanisms of marijuana in the brain, “ said Gupta. “This scientific journey is about a growing number of patients who want the cannabis plant as a genuine medicine, not to get high.”
Dr. Gupta went onto release a sequel to “Weed” entitled “Weed 2: Cannabis Madness.” In the sequel, Dr. Gupta looks at United States federal laws that contemplate marijuana as a drug with no medicinal value and provides voices from scientists who say the federal laws are wrong.
In other words it is the “politics of pot – the politicians vs. the patients.”
So who are these politicians that some are pro medicinal marijuana and others who are against medicinal marijuana.
Nathan Deal, Governor of Georgia expressed his interest in legalizing medicinal marijuana after HB-885 did not follow through.
“I will be talking with all of our state agencies who have any kind of involvement in dealing with that issue to see if there is something we can do to make this treatment possible, “ Said Deal.
Marijuana has been called the “gateway drug” and one of the many reasons why it is still illegal is because of the THC level in the plant. The THC in marijuana is what gives you the “high” but in marijuana there is cannabidiol.
Cannabidiol “is a non-psychoactive component of marijuana that possesses a wide range of therapeutic benefits.”
Some of the few benefits of CBD (cannabidiol) are that CBD can offset the carcinogens found in metastasis of cancer. CBD is also an anti-psychotic medicine that can treat schizophrenia as well as other brain related concerns.
So why is medicinal marijuana still ILLEGAL?
One of the reasons why it remains illegal in Georgia can be unfortunately thanked to Senator Renee Unterman who attatched Senate Bill 397 to House Bill 885 which would have “reformed medical treatment for autistic children in Georgia.”
“She had an agenda important to her, but it needed to stand alone. She didn’t need to hijack another bill to push her piece of legislation”, said Rep. Allen Peake, the main sponsor of HB 885.
Therefore adding SB 397 to HB 885 it predicted failure.
This failure puts a speed bump on the road of legalization to medicinal marijuana and it affects everyone from patients to politicians because of how important a reform like this is in present American society.
“These parents don’t understand how the General Assembly works but this building is nothing but politics”, Unterman said in an interview with WSBTV.
Now it seems like the year 2013-2014 the legislative session failed to pass two important bills for autism and medical marijuana reform.
Nonetheless, if each bill stood alone then we might now be in an era where medical marijuana is legalized.
The road to legalization of medical marijuana started on a high note, and then ran into some problems; but the road continues and might just end in a high note.
State Senator Curt Thompson has filed State Bill-432 (Controlled Substance Therapeutic Relief Act), which will address many of the issues such as the quality of how medicinal marijuana will be served, the safe and legal access to cannabis oil.
(Regarding the State Senators busy schedule, he did not have the time to sit down with me to talk about his act)
His controlled substance therapeutic relief act will do the speaking for him.
The C.S.T.R act will ensure patients a safe way of receiving cannabidiol – this substance will help patients. People who comply with this act will not put the State of Georgia or their patients in violation of federal law.
For patients, SB-432 will allow two ounces of marijuana for use. If the qualifying patients registry identification card states that the qualifying patient is authorized to cultivate marijuana, then eight marijuana plants contained in an enclosed and locked facility will be provided. However, if the patient is moving living locations then the marijuana plants will not have to be in an enclosed and locked facility for travel.
Locally, the people of Athens and its GOP heard some good news about legalization of medicinal marijuana from Governor Nathan Deal.
Governor Deal has been in constant communication with the state pharmaceutical board, composite medical board, and the state medical school as well as the Georgia Regents University in Augusta all about testing on volunteers with cannabinoid oil.
Governor Deal will be looking over this reform very carefully in legalization of medicinal marijuana.
“This is not something we want to open the floodgates on,” Deal said. “It has to be done in a very controlled manner.”
If the trails were successful, the General Assembly could take up medical marijuana again.
State Bill 432 will do what House Bill 885 couldn’t do – pass. So lets hope for the best for the patients who are suffering from cancer, glaucoma, and other diseases that can be cured by medicinal marijuana.