Dozens of “medical refugees” from Georgia could make their way back home soon as the state Senate passed a bill allowing cannabis oil for certain medical conditions on Tuesday. The only hurdle between the bill and the desk of Governor Nathan Deal is a vote in the House, which may come this week.
Senate supporters have handed over legislation likely to make that happen — especially since it is already supported by the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon.
The compromise was made last week, after Senate Health and Human Services Chairwoman Renee Unterman, R-Buford, rewrote HB 1 as a way to merge a restrictive medical marijuana measure already approved in the Senate and a much broader effort already approved by the House.
The new version would allow cannabis oil to be used to treat eight of the nine disorders sought by the House in that chamber’s own medical marijuana proposal: cancer, Crohn’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), mitochondrial disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, seizure disorders and sickle cell disease.
And it would set a higher bar for what type of oil would be allowed: The oil could contain no more than 5 percent THC — the high-inducing chemical associated with recreational marijuana use — and must include at least a matching amount of cannabidiol to ensure better purity and quality of the drug.
The initial Senate version of the bill restricted usage to children under 18, which the bill’s supporters found unacceptable. Deal also faced considerable pressure from proponents of the measure before finally agreeing to sign a bill when it passed. This news obviously comes as welcome relief for the families who sought hope for their children but had to leave home to do so.