More than 100 Georgia families say they are willing to face federal drug trafficking prosecution in a show of mass civil disobedience after a House committee gutted legislation that would have allowed for in-state cultivation of a non-euphoric form of medical marijuana.
The General Assembly last year approved the use of cannabis oil, a marijuana derivative with low levels of THC, for the treatment of a handful of acute medical conditions. But because that legislation stopped short of green lighting in-state cultivation, those wishing to use the substance must risk violating federal law that prohibits the transportation of the oil across state lines.
Republican Rep. Allen Peake, who muscled the initial legalization proposal through the General Assembly last year, introduced legislation this session that would regulate the growth and production of the substance within the state.
But the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee stripped the marquee provision from the bill on Monday and instead moved only to expand the list of conditions whose sufferers qualify for treatment.
Now, parents who say their children desperately require access to the treatment are willing to be arrested in protest of the bill’s demise.
“Cultivation is the only thing that gives everybody and equal footing, and it’s fair and equitable to the entire state – not just the well-connected, not just those that have protection from lawmakers,” Dale Jackson, whose seven-year-old son is severely autistic, told Atlanta NBC affiliate WXIA. “We’re sick and tired of it. And today is the day the governor is going to have to answer the question, ‘Am I willing to allow Georgian citizens to risk breaking federal law, publically? ‘Am I going to stand up as governor to protect these families against the feds?’
“Is he willing to deal with that storm coming upon his state?” Jackson asked. “Because we are prepared, with over a hundred families that are willing to go public with this, across the entire state of Georgia. We are not playing around.”
Legislation to allow for the in-state cultivation of a non-euphoric form of medical marijuana was neutered by a House committee this week, stripping the bill’s marquee provision and instead only expanding the number of conditions whose sufferers may qualify for treatment.
The General Assembly last year approved the use of cannabis oil, a marijuana derivative, for the treatment of a handful of acute medical conditions. But because that legislation stopped short of greenlighting in-state cultivation, those wishing to use the substance must risk violating federal law that prohibits the transportation of the oil across state lines.
State Rep. Allen Peake, who muscled “Haleigh’s Hope Act” through the legislature last year, had hoped to clear that final hurdle this session, but the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee gutted the provision on Monday.
The bill faced opposition from Governor Nathan Deal and law enforcement groups, who testified against it in committee hearings earlier this month.
Peake, who is favored to win reelection from his middle Georgia district, told reporters that he intends to reintroduce the legislation next year.
When the General Assembly decriminalized cannabis oil last month for the treatment of a handful of acute medical conditions, lawmakers stopped short of allowing the marijuana derivative to be locally cultivated and produced — which means those qualifying patients wishing to use the substance must risk purchasing the extract elsewhere and trafficking it through states in which it remains illegal.
Because the oil contains low levels of THC, the euphoric chemical responsible for marijuana’s psychological effects, it may be shipped from out of state. However, it remains a federal crime to transport cannabis oil across state lines, so those Georgians whose conditions require higher levels of THC than those permissible to be shipped must risk breaking the law.
But on Tuesday Gov. Nathan Deal appointed state Rep. Allen Peake—who muscled “Haleigh’s Hope Act,” named for a 5-year-old Forsyth girl with a severe form of epilepsy, through the state legislature—to chair a special state commission to explore in-state production models for the oil.
The panel will deliver recommendations to the governor on how best to foster local production while not also fostering the recreational use of marijuana.
The legislation’s champion in the upper chamber, state Sen. Renee Unterman, and Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black were also tapped for the commission.
Georgia Senate lawmakers approved legislation Tuesday legalizing cannibis oil for patients suffering from one of eight conditions.
The bill, which now heads to the lower chamber, does not give blanket license to use the substance, though: only those sufferings from diagnosed seizure disorders, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, amytrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or cancer patients whose diagnosis is terminal or whose treatment program is inducing vomiting or gastrointestinal distress.
The marijuana normalization outfit NORML says the proposal would bring Georgia to parity with eleven other states that already allow non-euphoric cannibis oil, but twenty-three other states already have more expansive allowances for medicinal marijuana.
Even as the bill has cleared one critical hurdle, two more remain.
State Rep. Allen Peake, the bill’s primary sponsor, will reintroduce the Senate-approved legislation next Monday for debate in the House.
A spokesperson for Gov. Nathan Deal declined to comment Tuesday when asked by Reuters if the governor would approve the legislation, but conservative consultant Todd Rehm wrote Wednesday on his blog that he has been “told the governor will sign it as early as Friday,” if it clears the House.