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Georgia House Passes Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill

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Just two weeks ago the Georgia Senate passed a bill aimed at expanding medical marijuana laws in the state – but the same bill hopes to reduce the amount of THC allowed in medical cannabis oil to be reduced from 5% (the current limit) to 3%, which lawmakers say will bring their state’s law more in line with similar laws in other states. Lawmakers in the state are also claiming that a higher THC content is a public health risk. Advocates for medical cannabis, on the other hand, are calling this a step backward for the state and argued that some conditions respond better to a slightly higher concentration of THC and that some patients would suffer because of this potential restriction.

“It has not become a public health risk. It has not become a public safety issue,” Peake told his House colleagues. “The law in place has worked as intended.”

Luckily, Representative Allen Peake, who has been instrumental in getting medical marijuana laws on the books in Georgia at all, introduced a similar bill in the House which was just passed this week. Unlike Senate Bill 16, House Bill 65 will leave the current limitations on THC at 5%, while adding eight conditions to the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis oil, effectively doubling the list and adding things such as HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s and autism to the list.

The only condition that was originally listed in the bill that was left out was PTSD. Though advocates are unhappy about this, lawmakers said that the definition for the condition is too broad and that if a tighter definition could be proposed that they would gladly add it to the list where they believe the condition does deserve a place. For now, however, the bill has been approved with a 156-6 vote in the House and will be sent over to the Senate.

In addition to adding eight more conditions to the list of qualifying conditions, House Bill 65 would also remove a one year residency requirement for medical marijuana patients – which will open up the opportunity for many more patients to qualify. It also allows patients from other states with similar laws to possess low-THC cannabis oil while they are visiting the state. These are both issues the Senate bill doesn’t cover at all.

Now the House will have a chance to review the Senate bill, while the Senate gets a chance to review the House Bill. If both bills manage to pass in both chambers, then they would likely end up in a conference committee, which is a specific group of lawmakers who are supposed to take the two similar bills and find a way to compromise before sending a final bill to the governor’s desk for signature or veto.

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