When it comes to restrictive medical marijuana programs, I honestly have to say I didn’t think it could get much more restrictive than the Charlotte’s Web law here in Florida or the newly opened program in New York – but Georgia managed to create a medical marijuana “program” that literally offers no true help for the patients.
Just a couple months ago we published a piece about a bill which would change all of that. It would allow cultivation and distribution, it would expand the number of conditions and even get rid of the THC percentage cap currently allotted to patients. Unfortunately, this bill never got the chance to see the light of day.
Well, at least not the bill in its entirety. Since the bill was submitted it has met revisions which have left it doing no good aside from expanding the number of qualifying conditions. Due to the Georgia Sheriffs Association convincing he Governor that allowing medical marijuana to be grown within the state would lead to an increase in crime and drug addiction (even though studies are proving marijuana legalization can actually reduce crime and addiction).
The bill was passed in the end, with a 152-8 vote for approval after the extreme changes to the original bill. The entire purpose of the original bill was to help offer legal access to this medicine – eliminating the need for patients to make themselves criminals to be healthy.
There was only one small part of the bill that still addressed legal access – and that was stating that patients could obtain cannabis in states where the sale is legal and transport it to Georgia themselves. However, this leaves the patients now forced to commit a federal act (transporting a schedule I substance across state lines) to obtain their medicine.
The only other choices for these patients is to illegally grow it at home or purchase it from someone who does the same. If the original House Bill 722 had passed, cultivation in the homes of patients as well as the building of a cultivation and distribution industry would have begun in the near future.
While they are allowing more patients to sign up for the program they are still leaving them wide open for a handful of legal troubles. This is in no way fair to the patients who need this medicine to live a comfortable life – this bill has done virtually nothing but provide them a free pass on a possession charge, while leaving the dangers of much higher charges on the table.
This bill is now on the way to the Senate for approval – and at this rate there is no reason it should not be approved as all controversial aspects have been removed. I hope Georgia gets things together and can allow patients legal access in the near future, the people deserve it.