Georgia House group pushes for medical cannabis expansion

A group of lawmakers stands firm in their belief that their medical cannabis measure is the best way to help Georgia patients.

Members of both the House and the Senate approved legislation this session that would add to the list of conditions that qualify for the state's medical cannabis registry. 

The House bill (HB 65) adds eight conditions including autism, HIV and AIDS.  The Senate's measure (SB 16) adds autism, but reduces the legal limit of THC from 5 percent to 3 percent.

Members of the House's Medical Cannabis Working Group voted Monday afternoon to recommend to the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee that they replace the language of the competing Senate measure with what the House already approved.

"The House version opens what has been a very successful program up to more Georgians who have been hurting with debilitating illnesses," explained Rep. Allen Peake, R- Macon, who chairs the working group.  "Why go backwards?  Why would we go to tell a Georgia citizen who is using 5% THC that, 'No, you can't use it anymore.  We've decided that it needs to only be 3%.'  We're gonna take away something that has been really improving the quality of their life and to me that's almost cruel and unusual punishment in some respects."

Sen. Ben Watson, R- Savannah, is the main sponsor of the Senate's medical cannabis bill.  He said the THC reduction is designed to bring Georgia's law more in line with what other states do.

"I think there's some work to be done," said Sen. Watson.  "I think that our bill can me made better and I think that our bill can be made better."

According to Rep. Peake, the House judiciary committee should meet in the next week or two to decide whether to accept the working group's recommendation.

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