Medical marijuana bill passes key committee vote

11:34 AM, Feb 27, 2014   |    comments
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Video: Medical marijuana bill clears hurdle

  • Supporters of allowing medical marijuana in Georgia celebrated as the bill cleared another hurdle on Wednesday, Feb. 26.
  • Georgia lawmakers to discuss medical marijuana bill

ATLANTA -- Another hurdle was cleared Wednesday in the fight to allow medical marijuana in Georgia. Lawmakers in a Georgia House committee voted unanimously to advance a bill that would allow medical marijuana under certain conditions in the state.

House Bill 885, sponsored by Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), would allow doctors to prescribe medical cannabis to treat children like Haleigh Cox, a 4-year-old girl from Forsyth who suffers from seizures.

"My daughter is on four seizure medications that are killing her right now," said Janea Cox. "To be able to get off of the seizure meds and give her quality of life where she can smile and laugh and talk again - it means the world to all of us."

Lawmakers in the Health and Human Services Committee voted overwhelmingly to send the bill to the House floor for a vote on Monday.

But the journey to passage, even in committee, was not easy. Peake, who drafted the bill, made the case to conduct clinical research trials in academic settings. That will allow a non-FDA approved cannabis to be grown domestically. The problem is that federal law prohibits that from happening.

Peake says 20 other states cultivate and provide it for patients. He reasons Georgia can do the same and says it's the best option for the state.

That's not the only hurdle. Chairman Sharon Cooper pushed for an FDA-approved form of cannabis. But the process can take up to 10 years, and as some advocates of the bill mentioned, these children don't have time.

Peake questioned the committee, 'Why wait for the process when there is a cannabis oil proven to work in Colorado?"

Despite the critics, there was overwhelmingly positive response to the bill. Representatives responded by a unanimous vote to pass HB 885.

But that bill will stay on the shelf unless it passes the House by crossover day, next Monday.

Families supporting the bill know that even if it passes the House and Senate and gets signed into law, there will be a potentially long delay before medical marijuana will be available.

Material from the Associated Press and WMAZ was used in this report.

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