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Georgia lawmaker to introduce medical marijuana bill soon

8:26 PM, Jan 21, 2014   |    comments
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  • State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon)
  • Georgia lawmakers to discuss medical marijuana bill
  • 3-month-old Kason Jiles
  • Georgia State House of Representatives
  • Pro-marijuana rally at Georgia State Capitol
  • Governor Nathan Deal (R-Georgia)
    

ATLANTA - 11Alive News has learned that a bill to allow immediate use of marijuana for medical purposes could be introduced in the State Legislature as early as this week.

The bill is being drawn up by State Representative Allen Peake (R-Macon), who's had a change of heart over the issue in just the past two weeks.

"We're not looking for legalization of recreational use of marijuana; that is the last thing on our mind and it won't happen in this legislature, I can promise you that," Peake told 11Alive on Tuesday.

A large group of pro-marijuana lobbyists held a rally on the steps of the state capitol Tuesday as they prepared to submit 15,000 petition signatures urging lawmakers to rewrite all of the state's pot laws.

"We are for all forms of marijuana law reform in Georgia," said Sharon Ravert, Executive Director of Peachtree NORML.

While they realize legalization or even decriminalization probably won't happen in Georgia any time soon, they applaud lawmakers like Peake for at least considering medical use.

"We are glad Georgia is taking on the issue," Ravert said.

Representative Peake said he had a change of heart after learning about patients like 3-month-old Kason Jiles, whose Ohtahara Syndrome can causes scores of seizures a day.

Unlike some other states that allow patients to smoke marijuana, his bill would allow only cannabis oil or pills to be taken intravenously or by mouth.

"It's not a 4-year-old smoking a joint; it's not in a smokable form," Peake told 11Alive.

"It's very limited in scope; it's managed by doctors, tightly regulated," he added.

State Senator Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) has already introduced a bill to set up a one year study committee on the issue.

But Rep. Peake thinks Georgia needs to act right away.

"There are families that are leaving our state to go to Colorado because they need access to this medical cannabis; there are children that are suffering that if we waited a year to do a study commission may not live," he added.

Right now the Macon lawmaker admits it would probably take "a minor miracle" for his bill to pass this election year, but he said support is growing.

Also on Tuesday, Republican Governor Nathan Deal told 11Alive he is aware of the issue, but hasn't taken a position yet.

"The possibility of the General Assembly beginning the hearings process I think has gained momentum and I will follow that as I'm sure you will follow that with interest," Deal said.

Currently 21 states and the District of Columbia have medical marijuana laws.

Georgia's legislature passed a medical marijuana law in 1980, specifically for chemotherapy and glaucoma patients, but it was never funded or implemented.

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