Peake: Medical marijuana bill "hijacked"

House Bill 885 did not pass on the last day of the Georgia General Assembly yesterday, so supporters of medical marijuana will have to wait at least another year for a chance at legalization.

The original version of the bill, drafted by Representative Allen Peake, would legalize cannabis oil for people with certain medical conditions.

It would also grant immunity from prosecution for parents who brought the oil back from states like Colorado, where medical marijuana is already legal.

But last week, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee added an autism provision to the bill that would require insurance companies to cover treatment for kids under the age of 6.

That move left both houses in gridlock yesterday, as the Senate unanimously passed the bill including the autism provision, while the House refused to consider it unless that provision was dropped.

Peake told 13WMAZ Friday the two bills are separate issues and shouldn't have been combined at all.

"[The Senate] chose to add the autism bill as basically a bargaining chip or a chess match play when they knew there was a chance that by adding it on there, it could kill the bill. And that's in effect what it did. I mean it's just the worst form of politics to play gamesmanship with the lives of Georgia families," Peake said.

One of those families from right here in Central Georgia inspired Peake to draft the bill.

You may remember the story we first brought you a few months ago of 4-year-old Haleigh Cox, who suffers from a seizure disorder.

Last week, Haleigh and her mom, Janea, moved to Colorado.

Janea tells us Haleigh started cannabis oil treatments on Wednesday and went from having two hundred seizures a day to only two today.

She says Haleigh's also been laughing and is more responsive and more alert than ever before,

But Janea says she's heartbroken other families in Georgia won't be able to get that help.

"I don't think a zip code should keep kids from getting a medicine. This is America, this is not a third-world country where some kids live and some kids die," Cox told 13WMAZ. "I feel horrible getting Haleigh the medicine when I know there's families in Georgia that need it so bad and they can't get their hands on it. we had the momentum, we had the votes, and somehow, we slipped right through the cracks."

Representative Peake tells me the fight's not over yet.

He says he's going to do everything he can to get medical marijuana legalized when next year's session re-convenes in January.

Follow 13WMAZ's Anita Oh on Twitter @anita_oh and on Facebook at Anita Oh WMAZ.


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