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Georgia: Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Georgia's Governor Nathan Deal has signed legislation expanding the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana patients, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Patients suffering from AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, epidermolysis bullosa, peripheral neuropathy, Tourette’s syndrome, and those in hospice care are now able to possess low-THC cannabis oil. There is no legal way to obtain it in the state, however.

The bill would have initially dropped the allowable THC content from 5 percent to 3 percent, but the chamber agreed to keep the 5 percent threshold intact after law enforcement and public health officials reported that there were no issues with the THC content.

State Rep. Allen Peake said the expansion offers patients “a ray of hope for a better quality of life.”

“My hope is that in 2018 we can fill the gaping hole that still remains, and provide legal access to medical cannabis oil here in our state with a safe, lab tested product produced within our own borders,” Peake said in a statement. “The job will not be finished until we accomplish this task.”

Peake, a Republican, has been supplying cannabis oils to some of the state’s registered patients and is the author of the House version of the newly-signed bill.

Georgia has 1,738 patients and 354 physicians registered with the medical marijuana program.

Georgia: GOP Rep. Allen Peake Supplying Low-THC Oils To State's Registered Patients

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Republican Rep. Allen Peake is supplying low-THC cannabis oils to Georgia patients due to the state's limited laws that allow them to possess the products but offer no way for them to cultivate, import, or purchase them, the Associated Press reports. Peake, a major advocate for Georgia's medical marijuana law, has helped families move to Colorado in the past so they would have legal access to medical marijuana treatments.

“We’re going to do whatever it takes to be able to help get product to these families, these citizens who have debilitating illnesses,” Peake said in the report. He added that he doesn’t know , and doesn’t ask, who delivers the boxes of cannabis oil to his Macon office.

He said that he makes a donation to a medical cannabis research foundation in Colorado each time a box is delivered, and that the donations total about $100,000 per year. Peake is allowed to legally possess the oil because he has obtained a medical marijuana card from the Georgia Department of Public Health, despite the fact that he is not considered a qualified patient under the state’s rules.

In Georgia, about 1,300 patients are enrolled in the state program and, aside from Peake, their only option to obtain the oil is online, which is against federal law.

Georgia: House Approves Compromise To Expand Medical Marijuana Program

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A compromise that would expand the list of disorders eligible for treatment with medical marijuana was overwhelmingly approved by Georgia House lawmakers Tuesday.

The chamber voted 167-4 to adopt senate Bill 16 after Senate lawmakers backed off a proposal to lower the THC level of the cannabis oil Georgia patients can legally use.

“This bill doesn’t go as far as many of us like, it does add six more conditions,” said state Rep. Allen Peake, (R-Macon) godfather of the state’s medical marijuana program. “And it does allow many more Georgians to benefit from this law.”

"I’m grateful we’ve moved the ball," Peake said. "We’re not there yet. We still have a huge issue of, where do we access the product. And until we deal with that we’re still going to be shortchanging our citizens in some respects."

Peake received a standing ovation from members of the House for his work on the measure after being introduced by Speaker Davis Ralston. Peake is a possible upcoming candidate for higher office.

Governor Nathan Deal is expected to sign the bill into law.

Georgia: Medical Marijuana Expansion Moves Ahead In State House

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A broad expansion to Georgia’s medical marijuana law passed a House panel Monday, coming closer to a floor vote before Friday's deadline for passage.

House Bill 65, sponsored by state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, would double the list of illnesses and conditions eligible for treatment with medical marijuana in Georgia to include AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, autoimmune disease, epidermolysis bullosa, HIV, peripheral neuropathy and Tourette’s syndrome.

The bill would also allow people who have registration cards from other states that similarly allow possession of certain low-THC cannabis oil to also possess the oil in Georgia.

The bill passed on a 7-3 vote, and the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee made changes that would require annual reporting by doctors who oversee medical marijuana patients. They also removed post-traumatic stress disorder from the proposed list of newly eligible diseases.

Under Georgia’s 2015 law, patients who register with the state are allowed to possess up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil to treat severe forms of eight specific illnesses, including cancer, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

The oil can have no more than 5 percent THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the component of marijuana that causes a "high".

The bill must win passage from the House by Friday to have a clear path to becoming law.

Georgia: Battle Over 'No Buzz' Medical Marijuana Law Turns To Civil Disobedience

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A civil disobedience campaign is now underway in Georgia to try to force legislators to expand the state's weak CBD only medical marijuana law, which left a lot of suffering children without legal access to the medicine they need.

A Georgia mpom is helping lead that fight to expand the state's extremely limited medical marijuana law, which she said unfairly excludes many patients with severe medical conditions, including her five-year-old autistic daughter, who could benefit from the medicinal properties of cannabis.

"There are some pretty tenacious parents who are fighting," said Jennifer Conforti, whose daughter, Abby, isn't covered by the current "CBD-only" law, written by lawmakers who understand neither the medicinal properties of cannabinoids, nor, according to Sue Rusche, president and CEO of the Atlanta-based drug prevention organization National Families in Action,m the process of drug approval.

Georgia: Governor's Leaked Emails Show He Never Intends To Expand Medical Marijuana Law

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Even though the majority of Georgia residents are in favor of legislation to make medical marijuana legal, a new report shows that Governor Nathan Deal had nixed the idea of growing marijuana in Georgia long before the state legislature shut it down.

An internal email trail between Governor Deal’s office and Representative Allen Peake, the lawmaker responsible for introducing the cultivation proposal, reveals that ever since Georgia officials got back from a Colorado fact-finding mission in November 2015, the plan has been to ensure a medical marijuana expansion plan never occurs.

The emails obtained by TV 11Alive’s Chris Hopper show that Governor Deal’s cronies, which included leading law enforcement officials, apparently did such a good job defaming the Colorado cannabis market — calling it a “mess” and a “nightmare” — that Deal had already made the decision never to allow marijuana to be grown in Georgia by the middle of last November.

In addition, the emails show that when Representative Peake made an effort to schedule future visits to additional medical marijuana groups, the governor’s chief of staff, Chris Riley asked him to “shut down the other trips” because the governor did not support any exploration or further consideration of the issue.

Peake responded to Riley’s email by offering to take the trip on his own dime, and that he hoped the Governor would not “let law enforcement’s fear stop us from doing something good for our citizens.”

Georgia: New Medical Marijuana Law Dead

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A bill to expand Georgia's medical marijuana law appears to be dead. House bill 722 will not move out of a Senate committee in time for a vote.

The bill would have added six conditions, including post traumatic stress disorder, to the list of allowed illnesses and diseases that are legally treatable with medical marijuana.

Se. Renee Unterman, of the Health and Human Services Commission, said on Monday that the bill will not see a full Senate vote.

“Unfortunately, after the bill came over from the House, the families were split,” Unterman said. “I had half the families come to me and ask me to hold the bill and then I had half the families who wanted to move the bill.”

Sponsor of the bill Rep. Allen Peake disputed the suggestion that parents were divided on the bill.

"I will feed free food at my restaurant for a month to anyone who can find one parent who has been advocating for this issue who is now opposed,” Peake said. "This is a bill that only got 8 negative votes in the House, passed overwhelmingly, will benefit several hundred -- maybe even thousands -- of individuals that are hurting and have debilitating illnesses in Georgia, so I can't understand why we wouldn't want to move down that path of potential benefit for those hurting Georgians."

Georgia: House Passes Medical Marijuana Bill

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A stripped down medical marijuana bill passed the Georgia state House Monday morning with a vote of 152 to 8.

The bill adds six conditions to the list of diseases and allowed illnesses that patients can treat with cannabis oil.

However, legal growth of medical marijuana in the state of Georgia will not be permitted. The bill only allows for shipment of cannabis oil into the state for qualified patients.

Some parents feel these limitations leave them stuck. "My daughter uses a product that has 3 percent THC in it, so we have to go to another state and break their law and then break federal laws to bring it back," Vince Seivert told WXIA TV.

Some were concerned that medical marijuana reform would lead to legal recreational marijuana. Backer of the bill, Sen. Allen Peake, says that wouldn't happen under his watch. "I will fight with just as much passion to block legalization of marijuana for recreational use as I fought for these families to have access to it here in Georgia," Peake said.

Georgia: Medical Marijuana Won't Be Grown Anytime Soon

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana won't be grown in Georgia anytime soon, according to sources close to the situation.

Macon lawmaker Rep. Allen Peake, who has pushed medicinal cannabis legislation, stripped in-state cultivation out of House Bill 722 on Monday, reports Christopher S. Hopper at 11Alive News.

Other lawmakers, law enforcement officials, religious groups, and even Governor Nathan Deal had joined in an increasingly shrill chorus of voices warning against growing medical marijuana in Georgia. These excitable folks apparently believe that -- uniquely among all medical marijuana states, which are now about half the Union -- Georgia would somehow be selected for persecution and prosecution by the federal government if it dares do something really crazy like protecting sick folks.

HB 722 was widely viewed as the next step after House Bill 1 passed last year, allowing patients to lawfully use and possess non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) cannabis oil. Patients were counting on HB 722 to make it easier for them to obtain their medicine.

A gutted version of HB 722, with in-state cultivation language stripped away, was written up. The gutted version also takes away original language which would have given a greater number of patients access by expanding the allowed list of illnesses from eight 1o 17. PTSD and intractable pain were both removed from the list.

Georgia: Lawmakers Face Seven Marijuana Bills

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Georgia lawmakers are facing no fewer than seven marijuana-related bills this session. Two of the measures, if passed, could result in cannabis legalization.

HB 722, sponsored by Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), would allow the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana, reports Randall Savage at 13 WMAZ. Peake is the author of the CBD-only cannabis oil bill that lawmakers passed and Governor Nathan Deal signed into law last April.

SB 254, sponsored by Sen. John Colbert (R-Lowndes County), would reduce marijuana possession charges from a felony to a misdemeanor for first-time offenders. Under Colbert's bill, first-time offenders could be sentenced to up to 12 months in jail, fined $1,000, or both.

HB 704, sponsored by John Pezold (R-Columbus) and co-sponsored by James Beverly (D-Macon), would allow the cultivation of industrial hemp.

HB 283, sponsored by Stephen Allison (R-Blairsville), would eliminate the current practice of suspending the driver's license of anyone convicted of marijuana possession.

SB 7, sponsored by Sen. Curt Thompson (R-Gwinnett County), would allow doctors to authorize medical marijuana for an expanded number of conditions.

SB 198, also sponsored by Sen. Thompson, a legalization bill, would permit the cultivation, production and retail sale of marijuana throughout the state.

Georgia: 84% of Voters Support Expanding Medical Marijuana Access

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new statewide poll shows Georgia voters massively support expanding current access to medical marijuana.

According to Georgians for Freedom in Health Care, 84.5 percent of voters approve expanding the law to allow for in-state cultivation and production of medical marijuana, reports Chris Hopper at 11Alive. Currently, Georgia's weak medical marijuana law only allows low-THC, high-CBD forms of cannabis oil, which cannot be grown or produced in the state.

A commanding 81.8 percenet of respondents said they'd support expanding the list of illnesses now included on the program. Allowing the smoking of medical marijuana as a form of treatment -- not curently allowed in Georgia -- is supported by 61.5 percent. a

State Rep. Allen Peake, who authored the current law, is pushing for its expansion. "There is no issue in Georgia that unites our fellow citizens like this one," Peake said. "People all across our state, young and old, black and white, need this medicine and they expect our government to create an infrastructure where they can have access to a safe and legal product."

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, is more timid. Gov. Deal recently expressed "concerns" with the idea, claiming he has yet to see any evidence there is a "proper way" to legalize cultivation in the state (yes, he really said that).

Georgia: Governor Signs Low-THC Medical Marijuana Oil Bill Into Law

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal on Thursday signed legislation immediately legalizing the use of low-THC medical marijuana oil to treat eight serious medical conditions.

The new law, sponsored in the Georgia House by state Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), makes it legal to possess up to 20 ounces of "fluid cannabis oil." The catch is, that oil can contain no more than 5 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive component of cannabis and also one of its chief medicinal compounds. Scientific research has shown that all the cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant, including THC and CBD, work best when used together, a phenomenon known as the "Entourage Effect."

Georgia's new medical marijuana law, a slight improvement on the "CBD only" laws passed by lawmakers in other conservative states, makes it legal to use cannabis oil to treat patients with epilepsy and other seizure disorders; Lou Gehrig's disease; cancer; multiple sclerosis; Crohn's disease; mitochondrial disease; Parkinson's disease; and sickle cell anemia.

"For the families enduring separation and patients suffering pain, the wait is finally over," Gov. Deal said, his voice cracking. "Now, Georgia children and their families may return home, while continuing to receive much-needed care.

"Patients such as Haleigh Cox, for whom this bill is named, and others suffering from debilitating conditions can now receive the treatment they need, in the place where they belong -- Georgia," Deal said.

Georgia: Medical Marijuana Bill Signed By Governor

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a medical marijuana bill into law on Friday in a ceremony on the Capitol steps.

The bill cleared its final legislative hurdle on Thursday when the Georgia House voted 160-1 to approve a Senate compromise that only slightly tweaked the original House version by state Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), reports Bill Hendrick at the Associated Press.

After an emotional debate which had lasted, all told, for two years, House Speaker David Ralston hugged Janea Cox, 33, mother of 5-year-old Haleigh Cox, who has intractable epilepsy and is one of the half-a-million Georgians Peake said should benefit from the new law.

"Some days make it all worthwhile," Ralston said.

Peake's bill had already passed the House by a huge margin. It originally called for people with nine medical conditions to be eligible for treatment with cannabis oil that has only minimal amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which producers marijuana's characterisic "high."

Georgia: Senate Passes Medical Marijuana 'Study' Bill

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Georgia Senate on Friday passed a medical marijuana bill that would establish a five-year study involving minors under 18 with seizure disorders.

The bill, by Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta), was approved on a 54-1 vote after a debate lasting more than an hour, reports the Associated Press.

Senate Health and Human Services committee chairwoman Renee Unterman (R-Buford) said she plans to work with Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) to add additional medical conditions listed in a House bill to the Senate's version of the legislation.

House members overwhelmingly approved Peake's bill in that chamber. That proposal would legalize cannabis oil for people with seizure disorders, cancer and seven other conditions.

Sen. Unterman praised the House bill and said a hearing will be held by March 19 to attempt merging the two bills into a combined measure.

Graphic: Herald Tribune

Georgia: New Push For Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Almost a year after the first medical marijuana bill -- and a rather mild one, at that -- failed in Georgia, suffering patients and those fighting to relieve their pain hope that won't happen again.

As lawmakers prepare for the next General Assembly in January, a poll from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows that 80 percent of Georgians support legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, reports Anita Oh at WMAZ.

Since Congress just approved, and President Obama signed into law, a spending measure that eliminated funding for the Drug Enforcement Administration to conduct medical marijuana raids on complying businesses in states where medicinal cannabis is legal, those favoring a change of law at the state level have more rhetorical ammunition.

After testifying in September before a medical marijuana study committee led by Republican state Rep. Allen Peake, Katie Crosby, 26, started a Facebook group called Hope For Silent Sufferers. "Imagine, before you even have a thought in the morning, you wake up, just in agony," she said. "A living hell, a living nightmare to be honest."

The group, which advocates for the legalization of medical marijuana in Georgia, has nearly 20,000 supporters. Through it, Crosby has connected with people like Pamela Skinner, who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 1996.

Georgia: Parents Pushing Lawmakers To Legalize Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Georgia lawmakers on Wednesday held a hearing at Mercer University in Macon to gather information about medical marijuana and help decide whether to legalize it in the state.

Efforts failed last year to pass a CBD-only bill which would have allowed the medicinal use of cannabidiol oil (which doesn't produce a high), but parents are determined to fight for a different outcome, reports 11Alive. Legislators heard story after story from parents who are desperate for effective medical treatments for their children.

The Calloways were one of the families who told their stories to the legislative committee at Mercer University. They are spending their last weeks together as a family before Beth Calloway and her daughter Maggie move to Colorado so that Maggie can get cannabis oil treatment for her daily epileptic seizures.

Aaron Klepinger already moved his family to Colorado to get effective treatment for his son Hunter; he said it's had a dramatic effect. "In Georgia we got an average of one or two EMS calls every month, saying that the school was calling EMS for a seizure that lasted beyond five or 10 minutes," he said. "In Colorado, not one."

Georgia: Governor Searches For Path To Legalizing Marijuana-Derived CBD Oil

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Infighting between Republican Georgia lawmakers before final approval doomed a bill which would have legalized marijuana-derived CBD oil in the state for the treatment of seizures, even after both chambers of the Legislature passed the bill. But Governor Nathan Deal is now considering administrative action to allow families in the state to use the oil for debilitating seizures.

At a campaign stop in Athens over the weekend, Gov. Deal said he was considering creating a state program under the auspices of a college, perhaps Georgia Regents University, to provide a scientific environment to start clinical trials of CBD oil, reports April Burkhart of the Athens Banner-Herald.

"It's important for us to understand that this is not an issue we want to open the floodgate on," Gov. Deal ssaid. "It has to be done in a controlled environment. If we can move it in that direction it will lay the foundation for us to do something legislatively in future sessions. That's where we are trying to move."

Georgia: Medical Marijuana Bill Approved By Committee, Headed For House Floor

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill that would make CBD oil, a non-psychoactive form of medical marijuana, available in Georgia was approved in committee late on Wednesday.

House Bill 885, sponsored by Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), was unanimously approved by the House Health and Human Services Committee after a two-hour debate, and is expected to reach the House floor on Monday, according to Peake, reports Aaron Gould Sheinin at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

A major change was made after the bill hit a snag. Peake's original plan was to important a type of high-CBD cannabis oil from Colorado that can be used to treat certain seizure disorders; he wrote the law after meeting pediatric epilepsy patient Haleigh Cox and her family. But federal law bans transporting any form of marijuana across state lines.

The version of Peake's bill approved on Wednesday would allow Georgia's five research universities to grow marijuana to extract the oil, which has proven helpful in quelling seizures.

Monday was the last day for bills to move from one chamber to another, so Monday's vote was crucial.

Georgia: Medical Marijuana Bill In Trouble - No Local Supply

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The problem with lawmakers writing the rules for medical marijuana is that they are just learning about it, themselves. That issue was highlighted in Georgia this week when House Bill 885, which had been doing great in the conservative Legislature, ran into a potentially fatal roadblock.

The bill's author, state Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), admitted that just over a month ago, he knew "next to nothing" about medical marijuana, reports Paul Crawley at 11Alive News. But when Peake met families of several young children with life-threatening seizures which might be helped be cannabis oil, he wrote his bill, which has now run into a snag.

"They cannot import it from Colorado or any of the other 20 states that have legal (medical) marijuana and without (a) local supply, the bill's dead," said activist James Bell of the Georgia C.A.R.E. Project. Bell pointed out that federal law prohibits Georgia from bringing cannabis across state lines, and state law won't allow it to be grown there.

"These people are going to the black market in order to get medicine, the cannabis medicine, so they're creating criminals out of people that should not be criminal," Bell said.

Georgia: Medical Marijuana Bill Will Be Introduced Tuesday

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill that would legalize the very limited medicinal use of marijuana will be introduced in the Georgia Legislature on Tuesday, according to the measure's sponsor.

Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) said he would introduce the bill in the House, and is seeking support for the measure, reports Aaron Gould Sheinin at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The legislation would allow patients with epilepsy to be medically authorized for medical cannabis "that is taken orally," meaning a form of cannabis-derived CBD oil concentrate. The bill would allow patients to apply to one of a few academic medical centers to receive the oil, reports Maggie Lee at The Telegraph of Macon.

Several Georgia parents of children who have epilepsy started lobbying the Legislature this year, saying the CBD oil treatment could ease the suffering of their children and reduce the number and severity of their seizures.

The cannabis oil would be supplied from Colorado. Access to the oil would be "restricted, controlled by doctors and limited in scope," according to Peake.

Peake said he firmly opposes the recreational use of marijuana.

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