ATLANTA -- The controversial fight to expand Georgia’s medical marijuana law got off the ground at the state capitol Wednesday.
The goal for supporters is to allow more patients to use a low THC cannabis oil. 11Alive News was the only local station inside the first hearing for the expanded bill.
“March 7, I began illegally treating my son with cannabis oil,” said Dale Jackson, medical cannabis advocate.
Georgians willing to break the law in the fight for medical cannabis are making their voices heard this 2017 legislative session.
“I’m never going to be cured but I can have a decent quality of life and feel like a human being again,” said Angie Simons, medical cannabis advocate.
Simons, who has lupus, and Stanley Atkins, a veteran who deals with constant pain, are among fighting against these laws.
“I describe it as a filet knife, not very wide but long, piercing through your liver through your diaphragm and into your gallbladder,” Atkins said.
Bridgett Liquori is a mother who sent her young son with autism to New York because she said she couldn’t get him the proper care in Georgia.
“It got to be too much and I couldn’t do it anymore," she said. "As Dale Jackson was saying, sometimes you just got to give up. So my son lives 800 miles away from me with his grandparents because there was no other option.”
The expansion State Rep. Allen Peake of Macon is presenting would add AIDS, HIV, Alzheimer’s, PTSD, intractable pain, and Autism to the list of patients who can already legally use cannabis oil.
“In the 2 years the law has been in place, the sky hasn’t fallen," he said. "Now would be a proper time to allow additional citizens to benefit from medical cannabis oil."
However, in Georgia you can’t legally grow or buy medical cannabis. Law enforcement and some religious groups are opposed to it and some still aren’t sure cannabis works.
“There, theoretically, could be about 10,000 children in the state that would be impacted by autism and, theoretically, could be seeking this oil for which there are no bona fide studies to support it,” Executive Director Rick Ward of the Pediatric Association of Georgia said.
A bill that would allow the voters to decide if it should be grown in Georgia, HB 65, is still working its way through the legislature. That focus on expanding the current law will be discussed again next Wednesday during a hearing for the medical marijuana working group. The group could vote on it that day and move it forward in the House.
Also at Wednesday’s hearing, Dr. David Bradford, a professor at the University of Georgia, detailed the findings of his extensive research on medical cannabis. Bradford said that appropriately designed medical cannabis laws can save lives and money.