The author of legislation aimed at expanding the state’s medical marijuana law said he won’t continue to push for cultivation in Georgia this year after the bill ran into problems in committee Monday.
The House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee eliminated a provision in House Bill 722 that would have allowed limited cultivation and production of cannabis oil. The bill would also increase the number of diseases for which marijuana could be used.
Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, wasn’t happy about the change.
“I can’t come before you today without saying how disappointed I am that we’re not moving forward with cultivation in this bill,” Peake said. “That was the heart of the bill.”
Peake said cultivation of medical marijuana would have benefited “a lot of families and citizens.”
Lawmakers approved legislation last year that legalized cannabis oil for the treatment of eight disorders.
Since cultivation is not legal in Georgia, patients and their families have to travel out of state to purchase cannabis oil. This puts them at risk of federal drug possession charges.
The bill would have allowed for the creation of a maximum six private, state-licensed cultivators and producers of cannabis oil.
Last month, Gov. Nathan Deal created a special commission that recommended against establishing a Georgia-based manufacturing program.
Committee chairman Rep. Rich Golick, R-Smyrna, called “cultivation and for-profit production” of medical marijuana problematic. He said striking cultivation from the bill would give improve its chances of passing the House.
Golick urged the federal government to “take action” on medical marijuana, as it would give the states “more flexibility.”
Peake’s bill would expand the list of disorders and conditions that could be treated with cannabis oil to include HIV/AIDS, epidermolysis bullosa and Tourette’s syndrome.
The bill would also protect manufacturers who ship cannabis oil to Georgia from criminal liability.
The committee is expected to vote on HB 722 on Wednesday.