Marijuana continues to be used as the biggest political football in the state. Yesterday Allen Peake and the committee in a unanimous vote approved Georgia’s revised medical marijuana oil bill.
There was a bit of good and bad news. The good news is they managed to keep the THC level at 5% which is already too low to help many infirmed from being pushed down to 3%. Many studies suggest that a THC level between 15% to 25% shows the best results for certain illnesses.
Republicans are scared to death that sick people might feel “stoned” when they are in pain or dying. That is fine as long as it in the the form of legal heroine known as morphine but not okay if it is from a plant.
The bad news is a significant number of illnesses were removed from the approved list. At least 11 illnesses are now gone. But the description of terminal illness could have applied to far more illnesses. All those people are now out of luck.
As approved by the committee, the legislation applies to people who have been diagnosed with cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, mitochondrial disease, fibromyalgia and Parkinson’s disease. To get medical marijuana, they would have to be diagnosed by their doctors and get a registration card from the state Health Department.
Gone from Haleigh’s Hope Act are: Glaucoma, AIDS, ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, Muscle spasticity disorder, PTSD, Autism, Sickle cell anemia, Tourette syndrome, A terminal illness that involves severe pain, nausea or wasting. People with any of these conditions will not be allowed to get a doctor’s prescription under the revised bill.
Patients that meet the criteria and fall on the approved illness list can possess up to 20 fluid ounces — the size of a plastic bottle from a soda machine — of CBD oil which is a type of liquid medical marijuana. They will also need to buy it in another state and bring it back here which is a felony. In fact, they will need to bring it back in several times a year since the law set 20 fluid ounces as themaximum permissible amount.
“It was clear that that was not going to get support in the executive branch and probably not in the leadership of the Senate,” said Peake, after the Monday panel vote.
The biggest opponents of more medical conditions includes a group of unlikely bedfellows. You have drug cartels and street drug dealers who are adamantly opposed to any legalization because that will ultimately put them out of business.
You have the blue-haired church lady from SNL types who have no real idea why they opposed medical marijuana but they always trust their gut instinct.
Next is the country club Republicans who see nothing wrong with getting plastered with alcohol which is also a psychoactive drug, but that is perfectly fine with them. It also helps that Big Pharma and Alcohol distributors donates to their campaigns and are opposed.
Don’t forget big Pharma companies like GW Pharma and Novartis. They are big supporters of Georgia Republicans and are against any reform since they want to sell you their pills.
Nathan Deal is opposed because he is already planning for his retirement. Don’t be surprised if Novartis or GW Pharma show their gratitude after this old geezer is finally out of office. Hopefully the FBI will finally indict him on all those pending ethics charges before he can enjoy all the debts he is collecting.
Last and certainly not least you have the self-serving Georgia Sheriff’s and Georgia Prosecutors opposed. These two groups are perhaps the most responsible why suffering cancer patients were not included on the revised bill.
Representatives of Georgia’s sheriffs, police and prosecutors said they feared the law was open to abuse. At least that is the reason they stated to media. The actual reason is they are afraid if marijuana is ever fully legalized their budgets would be cut in half due to less crime. They are also scared to death they would no longer be able to fill up all Georgia’s for-profit prisons. Finally they would no longer be able to easily steal money from citizens which is common now. A botched drug raid is exactly why David Hooks was executed.
The Georgia sheriff’s and prosecutors don’t give a damn about people with Glaucoma, AIDS, ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, Muscle spasticity disorder, PTSD, Autism, Sickle cell anemia, Tourette syndrome, A terminal illness that involves severe pain, nausea or wasting. All they care about is losing $$$$$$$. Follow the money!
Gone also is in-state growing. Peake wrote in-state growing of the liquid medical marijuana into early drafts of his House Bill so patients could get medical cannabis close to home. Because cannabis and all its derivatives are still banned by the federal government, moving it across state lines is a felony. If any medical cannabis is to be accessible in Georgia this year, it will have to come from another state.
Patients must sign up with the Georgia Department of Public Health for the “Low-THC Oil Patient Registry. Peake added the 20-fluid-ounce cap and outlined punishment for possessing the liquid illegally. Depending on the amount, it would be a felony worth up to 20 years in prison or a $1 million fine if youare caught with the oil and are not registered.
The next step is the House Rules Committee to see if it can get a full House floor vote or to decide on any other amendments. Then Allen Peake will need to find a Senate sponsor where the Senate will also have their own procedures to follow.
The Senate already has their own bill sponsored by Curt Thomson D-Norcross known as Senate Bills 6 and 7. SR 6 puts the discussion of retail marijuana regulation and taxation on the table.
SB 7 would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana of up to two ounces for specific debilitating medical conditions, including cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, ALS, Chron’s Disease, Alzheimer’s and the chronic or debilitating condition that cause Cachexia (wasting syndrome), severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, and seizures/muscle spasms from epilepsy or multiple sclerosis.
Most people knowledgeable about this issue are pulling for Curt Thompson’s Senate bills to win out over the far more limited version by Allen Peake in the House. Especially now that in-state growing and so many conditions have been removed.
Even though Thompson is a Democrat, the GOP can read the tea leaves and understand their opposition to real medical marijuana laws looks extremely unpopular and antiquated. All polls show a majority of Georgia voters support the provisions in Thompson’s bills. The GOP is looking very out of touch and uncompassionate to the plight of sick people in need.
Regardless of what happens, this slow pace is shameful. Other states have managed to debate and pass bills in far shorter time than the snail’s pace in Georgia. Allen Peake said “We may have seeds in the ground by summer or fall of 2016”
2016 is a long time away when you need help today. Several groups are now in the process of finding out which Sheriffs and District Attorney’s in the state are opposed to medical marijuana. Once that list is complete their names will be published. It might be far easier and a shorter list to simply find out which ones support medical marijuana.
In 2016 any of these Sheriffs, Prosecutors, and other politicians that are up for election will understand there is a steep price to pay for trying to keep dying people with AIDS and so many other illnesses from getting a small measure of relief from medical marijuana. Imagine how quickly they would change their minds if it effected them personally. Gotta love hypocrites.