ATLANTA - A bill to expand Georgia’s medical marijuana program has been endorsed by Gov. Nathan Deal.
State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), who has been a longtime advocate for medical marijuana, was informed of the governor would support adding post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain to the list of illnesses covered under the program.
The governor's office also has confirmed Deal's support to 11Alive.
Peake said he will be amending a bill currently before the General Assembly, HB 764, to include what Deal would support.
“It is a big change for the governor, which is great, but does it do a whole lot, I don’t know,” said Joshua Littrell, founder of Veterans for Cannabis. “He’s kicking lives down the road.”
“I was surprised, particularly after his announcement that he would not support cultivation,” Peake said. “Gov. Deal has been touched by the stories of citizens who have benefited from medical cannabis oil, folks who have diagnosed migraines, lupus, or possibly fibromyalgia.”
In Georgia, only a very select few are allowed to legally use a low THC form of cannabis oil, with only about 3,500 in the registry.
Religious and law enforcement leaders have been opposed to any large-scale expansion. But Peake believes this change could significantly increase the number of people on the registry.
The news is a positive step for those inside the Georgia capitol fighting for medical marijuana, but cultivation remains the major issue.
Buying or growing medical marijuana is still illegal. You have to go somewhere else to get it, and technically, that’s against federal law.
“Once the bill gets to the Senate we continue to have issues over there, it’s going to be squarely in (Lt. Gov.) Casey Cagle’s lap,” Peake said. Cagle is one of several Republicans running for governor this year, and the issue of medical marijuana is sure to be one of the topics in the race.
“We as a state need to do what we need to do to provide access for our citizens here in Georgia,” Peake said.
HB 764 also sets forth new guidelines for licensing and requirements for medical marijuana providers.