State lawmakers discuss legalizing medical marijuana

Some Georgians think marijuana should be legalized for medical purposes..

That's one of the issues that state lawmakers may be discussing during their 40-day legislative session, which began Monday.

Speaking at the Capitol in Atlanta, state Rep. Allen Peake, a Macon Republican, said he supports opening a discussion on allowing medicinal marijuana in Georgia.

He said he was inspired by a story that 13WMAZ's Judy Le reported last week about a 4-year-old Haleigh Cox in his district.

She suffers from uncontrolled seizures, and her family said it's considering moving out of state to purchase medical marijuana that would help her condition.

Peake said a similar law in Georgia might help other people in the same condition.

"If it was my child, my grandchild, and this was the only remedy to be able to deal with a medical issue, I'd be pushing it as hard as I could," Peake said. "So I think there's a good, it's worth a good effort, to look at it, but let me be clear, there is no interest in legalizing marijuana for normal purposes here in our state."

State Rep. Nikki Randall, a Macon Democrat, said she agrees with Peake on medical marijuana and also wants to look into legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

But first, she wants to explore how legislation has worked in other states, such as Colorado.

"I'd like to see after a year or two what the benefits were in those states, and I'm open to just about anything that will make our state more progressive, that will bring more revenue for our state so that we can take care of our citizens," she said.

Randall said one of her legislative priorities this session will be tying up some loose ends in the Macon-Bibb consolidation charter. She said that ranges from the number and size of local boards and agencies to possibly bringing Payne City into the new consolidated government..

But state Rep. James Beverly, a Macon Democrat, said he's skeptical of the marijuana discussions, and he wants to make sure any bill is specific before the issue moves forward.

"I'd have to look at the law," Beverly said. "It would be very, it has to be crafted in a very tight way if it's going to happen. but at this point, I would not, I would say no."

Most state lawmakers say this session will be quick, wrapping up in mid-March instead of April.

That, they say, is because the 2014 elections, begin with candidate qualifying March 3 instead of late April. All 236 General Assembly seats are up for grabs this year.

The primary election is scheduled for May 20, and the primary runoff is slated for July 22. The general election will be held Nov. 2.

Follow 13WMAZ's Tom George on Twitter @thetomgeorge


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