Pubdate: Mon, 15 Aug 2016
Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press (TN)
Copyright: 2016 The Associated Press
Note: Paper does not publish LTE's outside its circulation area


MACON, Ga. (AP) - Medical marijuana supporters in Georgia were hoping 
for something different from the federal government, not its recent 
ruling that cannabis should remain off-limits.

Georgians like Janea Cox of Monroe County want to be able to get 
medical cannabis just like other prescriptions instead of breaking 
the law to seek therapies for themselves or their loved ones, The 
Telegraph reported.

It was difficult to hear news of Thursday's ruling from the federal 
Drug Enforcement Administration, Cox told the Macon newspaper. The 
agency decided marijuana will remain on the list of most dangerous 
drugs, which includes heroin See page 16

 From page B1 and LSD, The Associated Press reported.

Cox's daughter Haleigh, 7, takes a liquid made in part from cannabis 
to treat the symptoms of a severe seizure disorder that can stop the 
little girl's breathing. She said her daughter now sometimes goes 
days without a seizure, is learning things and can sit up on her own.

"Get past the stigma," Cox told the Macon newspaper. "Our kids are 
not smoking this. It's an oil and it's saving our kids."

Blaine Cloud, a father from Smyrna, and his wife, Shannon Cloud, are 
among the most vocal medical cannabis activists in Georgia. Their 
11-yearold daughter Alaina has used medical cannabis for a seizure disorder.

"They say it has no medical benefit, but there is proof all over the 
world that it does," Blaine Cloud told The Telegraph.

The Drug Enforcement Administration said its decision came after a 
lengthy review and consultation with the Health and Human Services 
Department, which said marijuana "has a high potential for abuse" and 
"no accepted medical use." The decision means pot will remain illegal 
for any purpose under federal law, despite laws in 25 states and 
District of Columbia legalizing pot for either medicinal or recreational use.

The author of Georgia's medical cannabis law, state Rep. Allen Peake, 
R-Macon, said it's time for the state to make sure residents can get 
safe, regulated medical cannabis under the oversight of doctors.

"To me it's pure insanity to continue to say that there is no 
medicinal value in a product that has been recognized by at least 25 
states. to have some medicinal value," said Peake, referring to 
states that allow medical cultivation.

Cultivation has been a hard sell in Georgia. In hearings over the 
years at the state Capitol, some of the state's top law enforcement 
officers have argued that they cannot endorse breaking the law and if 
cannabis has medical value, then it needs to be proven through trials 
just like any other drug. Some also say medical crops would be used 
to cover illegal recreational crops, and medical cannabis could be a 
slippery slope to the recreational kind.

Republican Gov. Nathan Deal has been an opponent and has said he's 
not convinced Georgia could control in-state cannabis cultivation.

Nationally, the Obama administration's position on marijuana started 
to ease in 2013, when the Justice Department notified Colorado and 
Washington that it would not interfere with state laws so long as the 
drug was kept out of the hands of children, off the black market and 
away from federal property, the AP reported. Colorado and Washington 
were the first two states to legalize pot for recreational use and sales.

Advocates saw that policy statement as the first step to an end of 
the federal prohibition of marijuana. But that hope was quickly 
diminished as administration officials, including the head of the 
White House-run Office of National Drug Control Policy, repeatedly 
said publicly they still considered marijuana a dangerous drug that 
had no place in the legal market, the AP reported.

Thursday's announcement was seen as another blow to those hoping the 
federal government would change pot laws.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom