Georgia House approves bill to expand Medical Marijuana Program

Posted by Sagar Satapathy on March 30, 2017.

In a major development, Georgia House of Representatives on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved legislation expanding eligibility conditions for treatment under the state’s medical marijuana program.

The Senate Bill 16, which was passed with 167-4 Vote, needs Senate approval to send the bill to Republican Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk for his review and signature.

The new measure adds six additional conditions to the list of diseases that qualify patients with a doctor's prescription for medical marijuana treatment. The conditions include Tourette's syndrome, autism, epidermolysis bullosa, Alzheimer's disease, HIV/AIDS and peripheral neuropathy.

A total of eight diseases are now eligible for treatment with low-THC cannabis oil across the state. In addition, anyone in a hospice program, regardless of diagnosis, will be allowed access to marijuana oil that’s low on THC, the chemical responsible for the marijuana high.

The Senate passed a bill earlier in this year's session reducing the allowable THC content to 3 percent. THC is the chemical in marijuana that gets users high. The House amended the bill to put the allowable level of THC back at 5 percent, the content permitted by current law.

"I’m grateful we’ve moved the bill," said Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), who has sponsored medical marijuana bills the last several sessions.  "We’re not there yet. We still have a huge issue of, where do we access the product. And until we deal with that we’re still going to be shortchanging our citizens in some respects."

“More than 1,300 Georgia patients have benefit from cannabis oil since medical marijuana was legalized in Georgia two years ago”, he said. "It is changing people's lives, making life bearable, giving our citizens hope.”

Sen. Ben Watson, R-Savannah, authored the original Senate Bill 16. He said that he was pleased with the outcome.



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