Georgia House approves compromise to expand medical marijuana program

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Georgia House approves compromise to expand medical marijuana program

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A compromise reached Thursday in the Georgia General Assembly would make six more conditions eligible for treatment with a limited form of cannabis oil, a form of medical marijuana. Added to the list would be Alzheimer’s disease, AIDS, autism, epidermolysis bullosa, peripheral neuropathy and Tourette’s syndrome. The bill would also allow use of the oil for patients in hospice care. Eight other illnesses and conditions are currently eligible for treatment. The agreement would also maintain the level of THC, the component that makes marijuana users high, at 5 percent, instead of 3 percent as originally proposed in a Senate measure. BITA HONARVAR/SPECIAL

Georgia House lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a compromise that would expand the list of disorders eligible for treatment under the state’s nascent medical marijuana program.

The chamber voted 167-4 on Tuesday to adopt Senate Bill 16 after Senate lawmakers backed off a proposal that would reduce the THC level of the cannabis oil Georgians can legally use and House supporters rolled back an even broader expansion.

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

The bill expands the program to cover patients suffering from severe forms of autism, AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease and Tourette’s syndrome. Patients in hospice programs, no matter their diagnosis, would also be allowed access cannabis oil.

Peake, a possible candidate for higher office, drew a standing ovation from members of the House after Speaker David Ralston thanked him for his work on the measure.

The proposal was one of dozens up for a vote on Tuesday, the second-to-last day of the legislative session. It now goes back to the Senate for final consideration, where it’s expected to pass. Gov. Nathan Deal is also expected to sign it into law.

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