The movement to legalize marijuana has been gaining steam nationwide. Eight out of nine states with ballot initiatives related to marijuana legalization passed in the 2016 election cycle. These initiatives ran the spectrum from limited medical use to full recreational use. President Obama has seemingly flip-flopped on the issue by publicly stating it should be treated as alcohol or cigarettes are treated, while enforcing policies of raiding producers in states that have legalized marijuana production. Locally, a few Georgia lawmakers have been working towards marijuana legalization. Unfortunately, little headway has been permitted, as opposition in the Senate and by the Governor has proven too much to overcome. Marijuana legalization is not only the moral thing as regards individual liberty and self-ownership, but specifically in treating disorders such as PTSD, Alzheimers, Autism spectrum disorders, seizure conditions, Crohn’s Disease, and many other illnesses. We MUST do the right thing and increase Liberty in Georgia by allowing citizens to treat medical conditions with marijuana as needed, and stop the morally abhorrent war on drugs that has been waged for decades.
Future of Marijuana Legalization in Georgia
Update: Allen Peake has introduced HR 36 which, if passed, would put the issue of of growing and distributing marijuana for medicinal purposes in Georgia. He simultaneously entered HB 65. A bill in the House to expand the list of illnesses eligible for medical marijuana use to include AIDs, Alzheimer’s, Autism spectrum disorders, intractable pain, PTSD, and Tourette’s syndrome. The Senate also introduced SB 16. which would add Austism spectrum disorders to the list of eligible illnesses and roll back the allowable THC content in cannabis oil from 5% to 3%.
State Representative Allen Peake (R), a leading proponent of marijuana legalization in Georgia, will try to put the issue to Georgia voters in the form of a referendum. The referendum is expected to expand the list of qualifying ailments for medical marijuana use as well as creating a legal way of obtaining said legal marijuana, as it is still illegal for citizens to obtain any marijuana product in Georgia, even if that citizen may legally possess it for medical purposes.
History of Marijuana Legalization in Georgia
HB 1 – Haleigh’s Hope Act
HB 1 was passed in the 2015 legislative session and legalized possession of up to 20 ounces of marijuana oil containing less than 5% THC for patients suffering from sickle cell, cancer, Crohn’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, mitochondrial disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, or seizure disorders. Cultivation of marijuana was NOT made legal via HB 1. The fact that cultivation is illegal means that there is still no legal means to gain access to medicine that is technically legal to possess. That is absurd. And that is why Allen Peake has engaged in civil disobedience to help get families in his constituency access to marijuana oils to treat medical disorders. Peake broke federal and state laws to provide families in his district the help he promised and, for that, he should be commended.
SR 6 – The Georgia Marijuana Legalization Amendment
State Senator Curt Thompson(D) sponsored SR 6, a resolution in the 2015 legislative session meant to amend the state constitution to legalize recreational marijuana for adults age 21 and up. The resolution was filed, read, and referred, but was never brought to the floor for a vote
SB 198 – Georgia Retail Marijuana Code
Senator Curt Thompson also sponsored SB 198, the Senate bill associated with SR 6 that outlined the actual implementation of legalized recreational marijuana use. It limited the possession of marijuana to two ounces. In order to sell marijuana, retail stores would be required to pay an excise tax, the proceeds of which would be split between education and transportation spending. There would be no taxes on marijuana sold for medical purposes.
HB 722 would have expanded the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana use to Glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Tourette’s Syndrome, severe and persistent muscle spasms, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Epidermolysis Bullosa, PTSD, intractable pain, Autism spectrum disorders, Alzheimer’s, and any terminal illness with less than a year of life expectancy, any condition approved by a commissioner appointed by the state. The failed bill provided rules for dispensaries to provide medical marijuana to patients, and lifted the 5% THC limit put in place by Haleigh’s Hope Act. Unfortunately, this bill was passed by the Georgia House of Representatives and the Senate never brought the bill to the floor for a vote.
SB 7, also filed by State Senator Curt Thompson, would have allowed patients and caregivers over age 21 to use medical marijuana to possess up to two ounces. Qualified users would also have been able to cultivate marijuana plants. In contrast to HB 1, SB 7 would have allowed medical marijuana to be distributed by physicians in forms other than oil. The bill was read and referred but was not raised for a vote.