With Days To Go, Medical Marijuana Bill Stalls In Committee

Mar 15, 2016

A scaled-back medical marijuana bill is stalled in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, but the sponsor vows to fight on.

Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) is the most vocal proponent of medical marijuana in Georgia. 

Last year, lawmakers approved his bill to decriminalize cannabis oil for the treatment of eight chronic conditions. The measure did not legalize marijuana cultivation or cannabis oil production, meaning patients who use the drug had to travel elsewhere to obtain it.  

Peake sponsored another bill this session that would permit in-state cultivation, but a House committee gutted it. The watered down measure only expanded the list of illnesses eligible for cannabis oil treatment.

It passed the House in February, on a vote of 152-8. But Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, says the bill will not make it out of her committee.  The reason? Unterman says families who could be helped by the bill were split in their support of it.

Peake disputes that claim, saying families are not divided on the issue. “Beyond disappointment, but we will not give up until midnight on the last day. Hurting Georgians are worth fighting for, and they deserve medical cannabis as an option for their debilitating illness,” Peake wrote in a statement on his Facebook page.

Peake says he’s confident Gov. Nathan Deal would sign the bill if it lands on his desk.  Deal expressed concerns about the marijuana cultivation provision in Peake’s original bill.