Without opposition, a Georgia House committee Wednesday supported a bill to legalize medical marijuana in the state.
That vote by the House Health Committee on House Bill 885 came around 6:45 p.m.
State Representative Allen Peake says he expected his bill would be sent to the House Rules Committee and then hit the House floor Monday morning.
Anxious parents sighed in relief as medical marijuana inches closer to becoming legal in Georgia. After nearly two hours of debate, the Georgia House's Health and Human Services committee unanimously voted to pass House Bill 885.
That will allow doctors to prescribe a medical cannabis to treat children like Haleigh Cox, a four year old from Forsyth who suffers from seizures. We first brought you her story two months ago, which ignited a movement to legalize medical marijuana. It's a cause mother, Janea Cox, has pushed for in the capitol. Wednesday night, that movement saw a win.
"This just means a lot. We feel like we've gotten through so much just through this committee and it just gives us all this extra push of hope that all of our families are looking for right now," said a crying Janea.
But the journey to passage, even in committee, was not easy. State representative, Allen Peake, who drafted the bill, made the case to conduct clinical research trials in academic settings. That will allow a non-FDA approved cannabis to be grown domestically. The problem is that federal law prohibits that from happening.
Peake says 20 other states cultivate and provide it for patients. He reasons Georgia can do the same and says it's the best option for the state.
That's not the only hurdle. Chairman Sharon Cooper pushed for an FDA-approved form of cannabis. But the process can take up to 10 years, and as some advocates of the bill mentioned, these children don't have time.
Peake questions the committee, 'Why wait for the process when there is a cannabis oil proven to work in Colorado?"
Despite the critics, there was overwhelmingly positive response to the bill. Representatives responded by a unanimous vote to pass HB 885.
But that bill will stay on the shelf unless it passes the House by crossover day, next Monday.