Pubdate: Thu, 29 Dec 2016
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)
Copyright: 2016 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


A key state House committee passed legislation Wednesday that would expand
the list of medical conditions that can be treated with cannabis oil.

House Bill 722 would add HIV/AIDS, epidermolysis bullosa, post-traumatic
stress disorder, Tourette's syndrome and other disorders and illnesses to
the list of qualifying medical conditions for the state's cannabis oil

Lawmakers passed legislation last year that legalized cannabis oil for the
treatment of eight disorders.

"We're going to improve the lives of a significant amount of Georgians by
the passing of this bill," said bill sponsor Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon.
"Not as many as I would've liked."

Peake was "disappointed" about the committee's decision Monday to
eliminate the provision that would have allowed limited cultivation and
production of cannabis oil. The bill would have originally allowed for the
creation of a maximum six private, state-licensed cultivators and
producers of cannabis oil.

Since cultivation is not legal in Georgia, patients and their families
have to travel out of state to purchase cannabis oil. Supporters say this
puts them at risk of federal drug possession charges.

One solution to the problem is to purchase cannabis oil from out-of-state
manufacturers who ship to Georgia. Peake's bill would protect the
manufacturers from criminal liability.

The addition of PTSD to the list of qualifying medical conditions was met
with some opposition.

Rep. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth, expressed concerns that the inclusion of PTSD
as a condition that can be treated with cannabis oil would send the wrong
message to veterans.

"There's a tendency, rightly, to elevate veterans and people who are first
responders," said Setzler. "I think it's below the dignity of our veterans
to suggest they need it."

Setzler, a U.S. Army veteran, said he doesn't think "using marijuana in
oil form...will solve their problem" in relation to PTSD. The
representative said making cannabis oil available to veterans suffering
PTSD "seems more like a reward" than medical treatment.

Lawmakers agreed that patients suffering from PTSD acquired as a result of
situations other than service in the armed forces would qualify for the
cannabis oil program.

Peake said the bill's passing is "an opportunity to provide" qualifying
patients "with some relief."

"I believe it has a decent chance of being enacted just from the
conversations that I've had," said Rep. Rich Golick, R-Smyrna, chairman of
the House Judiciary Non-Civil committee.
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