The Savage Truth: Medical marijuana legislation awaits lawmakers
Two more medical marijuana proposals await Georgia lawmakers when they convene in Atlanta for their 2018 legislative session.
In the last three sessions, lawmakers enacted legislation that legalized medical marijuana for several illnesses. But it remains illegal to grow the plant in Georgia or to bring the medicine derived from it into Georgia from states where it's legal.
State Rep. Allen Peake, a Macon Republican, lead the efforts to legalize medical marijuana use. But Peake was unable to get legislation approved that would've allowed growing and distributing it in Georgia.
Meanwhile, Peake jump started his effort to renew the medical marijuana fight by pre-filling two legislative pieces. Wednesday, November 15, was the first day to pre-fill legislation for the upcoming session.
One of Peake's pre-files is a resolution proposing a constitutional amendment to allow growing and distributing medical marijuana in Georgia.
The other is a bill that would allow people prescribed medical marijuana to possess the drug. It would also allow higher educational institutions in Georgia to bid on growing and distribution operation.
Among other things, Section 1 of the proposed bill says, "it shall be lawful for any person to posses or have under his or her control 20 fluid ounces or less of low THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) oil" providing the person is registered with the Department of Public Health and possess a registration card that's issued by the health department.
The five-page bill also includes regulations that would govern the facilities that grow and distribute the marijuana plant.
In order to get that enacted, Peake needs to get a majority approval in the House of Representatives and Senate. It would also have to be signed by the governor.
The resolution proposes a state constitutional amendment, which requires a three-phase process that doesn't include the governor's signature.
Among other things, it says the proposed amendment would "provide by general law for the regulation of the production of cannabis, sale of medical cannabis for medical usage to certain individuals as provided by law..."
Since it's a constitutional amendment, it would require approval by two-thirds of the House and Senate members. If the lawmakers approve by the two-thirds margins, the measure would be put on the November 2018 general election ballot for voters to decide the issue.
The 2018 General Assembly is scheduled to convene on January 8. Peake is confident the legislature will approve both measures. He's prepared to spend the effort to get it done.