georgia

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: Man Arrested On Drug Charges Claims Marijuana Is Salad

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A 26-year-old Georgia man was arrested Friday after police found a pound of marijuana during a traffic stop. Richard Relliford was unable to convince the cops that he was just heading home planning to salad, according to a Facebook post from the St. Mary's Police Department.

The police Facebooked a photo of the marijuana in a sandwich bag with a message:

"Look, If we have said it once, we have said a zillion times! No matter how hard you try to convince us this green leafy stuff is salad and you're just coming back from the store going to make a chef salad, Well Sous Chef UP! A SALAD THIS IS NOT!!!"

"Officers encountered Richard Relliford during a traffic stop, a 26 year old St. Marys resident, who had recently obtained this 1 pound bag of marijuana. He went to jail, as this is still illegal in Georgia!!!"

"Stay Safe Out There---Criminals Are A-FOOT!!" the Facebook post read.

The post generated more than 140 Likes and sparked a conversation about drug reform in the comments section.

"And I was going to offer up some ranch dressing!" commented Facebook user Lisa Toal. "Too funny!"

"Normal bag of cabbage?" chimed in Richard Ghiloni. "No says I."

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: State Senator Proposes Full Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Democratic state senator from Gwinnett County not only pre-filed a broader version of medical marijuana than has previously been considered by the Georgia Legislature -- he also pre-filed a constitutional amendment to legalize and regulate sales of cannabis, using the tax proceeds to fund education and transportation.

Senate Bill 7, the medical marijuana bill filed by Sen. Curt Thompson of Norcross would allow doctors to authorize up to two ounces to patients with medical conditions including cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS and Alzheimer's, reports Dave Williams at the Atlanta Business Chronicle. This is in contrast to legislation pre-filed last week by state Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), which would be restricted to legalizing cannabis CBD oil for treatment of seizure disorders in children and adults.

A bill pushed by Peake during this year's General Assembly that would have opened the door to CBD oil only died on the final day of the legislative session.

"While I adamantly support cannabis oil treatments for children with severe medical problems, I believe physicians should have the ability to care for all of their patients, regardless of age," Sen. Thompson said in a prepared statement.

Georgia: Cops Raid Man's Home After Mistaking Okra For Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

What have those Georgia cops been smoking? They don't know the difference between okra and cannabis.

A Georgia man woke up to find a police helicopter hovering over his home, and sheriff's deputies pounding at the door to search his property for drugs. "They were strapped to the gills," Dwayne Perry said. But all he was growing was okra.

Drug agents from the Governor's Task Force had spotted what they thought was marijuana growing in Perry's yard in Cartersville, reports WSB-TV. "I was scared actually, at first, because I didn't know what was happening," Perry said.

Bartow County deputies and a K-9 unit appeared at his doorstep expecting to make a marijuana bust. "Instead, it's okra and maybe a bush on the end of the house," Perry said.

When Channel 2's reporter called the Georgia State Patrol, which is in charge of the drug task force, for an explanation, all he got was weak excuses. The officers sent an evidence photo of the okra.

"We've not been able to identify it as of yet," said Georgia State Patrol Capt. Kermit Stokes, who evidently is mystified by the sight of okra. "But it did have quite a number of characteristics that were similar to a cannabis plant." Incredibly, this moron still has a job in law enforcement.

"Here I am, at home and retired and you know I do the right thing," Perry said. "Then they come to my house strapped with weapons for no reason. It ain't right."

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: Marijuana-Derived CBD Oil Bill Dies In Legislature

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

You have to wonder about the priorities of the Georgia Legislature. They found time this session to pass a law mandating drug testing for welfare recipients. They even passed a law allowing guns in churches and bars. But they didn't find time to pass a law which would have helped children fight seizures with marijuana-derived CBD oil.

The effort to bring relief to Georgia children died at midnight on Thursday despite votes favoring the move in both houses, reports 13 WMAZ.

On the last day of the legislative session, the Senate unanimously approved, 54-0, House Bill 885 legalizing cannabidiol oil for medicinal uses, but added provisions requiring insurance coverage for treatment of autism in children.

The bill's main sponsor, Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), said the bill wouldn't pass the House with the autism provision because it's seen as "increasing the cost of health insurance for small businesses."

In a hail mary effort late Thursday night, the House passed yet another bill including medical marijuana and quickly sent it to the Senate. Rep. Peake begged the Senate to pass the bill, saying on Twitter that the bill was on life support.

But state Senator Renee Unterman of Gwinnett County, chairwoman of the Senate Health and Human Services committee -- which added the autism provision -- said she was "insisting" on it, and the Senate leadership closed ranks behind her.

Georgia: Senate Panel OKs Bill To Legalize Marijuana-Derived CBD Oil

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Georgia Senate committee this week unanimously approved a newly revised bill which would legalize the marijuana derivative CBD oil for treatment of patients with seizure disorders, cancer, and glaucoma.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee amended House Bill 885 to make it easier for state residents to gain access to cannabidiol oil, a non-psychoactive derivative of cannabis, reports Charles Craig at Online Athens.

The change would grant immunity from prosecution in Georgia for possession of CBD oil legally obtained in another state that permits the use of medical marijuana.

HB 885 was originally introduced by Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), who championed the bill to help children suffering from severe seizure disorders. CBD has proven effective in quelling the severity, frequency and duration of seizures, according to parents and doctors.

Under the revised Senate committee version of HB 885, patients with seizure disorders, cancer or glaucoma could use CBD oil as soon as they were able to obtain it from outside the state. Patients could also take the oil directly without supervision by a Georgia physician or an academic medical center under the revised version of the bill.

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.

Georgia: Family Fights For Medical Marijuana Law For 4-Year-Old Daughter

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Georgia family is fighting for access to a type of oil derived from marijuana to help their four-year-old daughter treat a disorder that causes up to 100 seizures a day.

Brian and Janea Cox want their daughter Haleigh to try a compound made from "a special kind of marijuana that's high in CBD (cannabidiol) that helps the brain, and low in THC," (tetrahydrocannabinol), the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, reports Maggie Lee at The Telegraph.

Janea Cox said her daughter is on benzodiazepines and opiates that make her sleep 18 hours a day, but can't get the cannabis oil that could help her the most, reports Lori Geary at WSB-TV. Children in Colorado with similar disorders have seen amazing results after being treated with cannabis oil, which is legal there, she said.

"It's good to see people are opening their eyes," Janea said. "Hundreds of kids die every day because of seizures. I don't want her to be one of those kids. So, I'm going to constantly fight."

Back in 1980, the Georgia Legislature created the Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Program, setting up a process for doctors to investigate the effects of marijuana on patients with glaucoma and other conditions. But that program was unworkable as written; it never attracted any researchers or patients.

Republic of Georgia: Hundreds Rally For Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Hundreds of citizens of the former Soviet republic of Georgia rallied in the streets of capitol city Tbilisi on Monday, demanding the legalization of marijuana.

A majority of the protesters rallying in front of the old parliament building were young people, reports Radio Free Europe.

Many of them were wearing green shirts and were holding posters and placards calling on the government to "Stop Sending People to Jail for Smoking Weed."

Rally participants said they weren't advertising marijuana, but taking action to protect the personal freedom of those who choose to smoke it.

David Sergeyenko, Minister of Labor, Health Care, and Social Protections, said last week in a televised statement that his ministry was discussing the possibility of legalizing cannabis. According to Minister Sergeyenko, Georgia's Justice Ministry is also involved in the talks.

"If you have marijuana in your pocket, and police catch you, you might end up with up to 11 years in prison," psychologist David Subeliani said at the rally. "That's nonsense. We are talking about human rights."

(Photo: Radio Free Europe)

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