While regulations governing the production and distribution of cannabis oil in Georgia are now absent from proposed medical marijuana legislation, state lawmakers are pushing forward with remedies to the problem.
“After intense discussions with Gov. (Nathan) Deal, the decision was made to delay the in-state growth model for a year for more study to make sure we get it right,” state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, said in a statement last week.
Lawmakers now are pursuing several options to ensure patients can acquire cannabis oil, even if the marijuana plant isn’t grown here. The oil has anti-anxiety effects but lacks enough TCH, a psychoactive ingredient, to create a marijuana “high.”
Peake said a commission will be created to make a recommendation by December for cultivating and dispensing cannabis oil in the state.
In the meantime, cannabis oil remains illegal to transport across state lines.
Peake said lawmakers would work with manufacturers and distributors in states like Colorado and California to transport the drug to Georgia.
Peake said he will also ask Deal to seek an exemption from the Drug Enforcement Agency and federal Justice Department to ship the drug from other states.
If these options don’t work, Peake said he is ready to engage in civil disobedience.
“I am fully prepared to risk going to jail to get medicine for these children with seizure disorders,” he added.
Peake said 17 families had left Georgia and moved to other states to get better access to cannabis oil. But for those left behind, access to the drug will remain a challenge no matter what lawmakers do until the drug is more readily available in the state.
Katie Harrison’s 2-year-old son, Hawk, suffers from several seizure disorders after a brain hemorrhage suffered when he was 3 weeks old.
Harrison, a resident of Gillsville, said she got a doctor’s recommendation in California to treat her son with cannabis oil, and after a two-week trial there noticed “obvious” improvement.
“We saw instant cognitive benefits,” she said. “He was happier.”
Harrison said that while she has the means and connections to acquire cannabis oil for her son if the state allows it, she’s worried about other patients in Georgia.
“All that’s well and good for me,” Harrison added. “But it’s not going to be well and good for so many people in Georgia. They’re not going to have access is what I’m afraid of. And that kills me. That could very easily be me.”
Harrison and other families impacted by the proposed legislation will hold a rally at the Capitol in Atlanta next week to keep up the pressure.
“There is definitely that vibe, that we’re not done at all, that we’re not going away,” she said.