DEA decision on medical marijuana ‘could be huge’ for Georgia families

The announcement Thursday by federal officials to keep marijuana on the list of most dangerous drugs has stunned Georgia advocates, who called it “insane” and said it would hurt families trying to access a form of medical marijuana legally allowed here.

“The impact on Georgia’s families could be huge, as it could further delay getting access to safe, lab-tested product here in Georgia,” said Blaine Cloud, who with his wife, Shannon, have been at the forefront of an organized push by parents to expand Georgia’s year-old medical marijuana law.

“Currently parents and patients are having to either travel across the country and smuggle their medicine back home several times a year, or buy marijuana here illegally and make their own oil in their kitchens, with no idea whether it’s safe,” Cloud said.

With the federal decision, marijuana continues to be classified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule I drug, the most dangerous class of drugs with a high potential for abuse and addiction, and no accepted medical uses. Federal officials said, however, they would now allow more research into the drug’s medical uses and expand the number of places allowed to grow marijuana by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for research purposes.

“We definitely applaud the NIDA decision to lift the monopoly on marijuana available for research, so hopefully more research can be done in the future,” Cloud said. “But with it still listed as Schedule I, the many departmental approvals needed and barriers in place are still a tremendous obstacle to anyone wanting to do that research here in the U.S.”

“Until we have a locally available, safe, lab-tested product that our doctors can work with, then Georgians will continue to suffer,” Cloud said.

Georgia state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, who authored Georgia’s medical marijuana law, called the decision “insane,” and said it “now becomes a full-on ‘states’ rights’ issue, and we as Georgia leaders must be willing to address the proper way to provide safe, lab-tested medical cannabis for our citizens.”

Click here to read our premium story about Georgia’s law, its effect on families and patients and what advocates want.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.