Georgia Senate makes final picks to study medical marijuana

State Senate leaders named their final picks Friday for a committee to study legalizing medical marijuana in Georgia.

Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, Sen. Dean Burke, R-Bainbridge, and Sen. Curt Thompson, D-Tucker, will join Senate Health and Human Services Chairwoman Renee Unterman, R-Buford, on the panel.

Unterman and state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, will lead the committee, which is charged with making recommendations by year’s end about allowing medical marijuana in Georgia. It comes after the state House and Senate failed to reach a compromise on legalization in the waning hours of this year’s legislative session.

Peake has proposed allowing Georgia families to use cannabis oil to treat certain seizure disorders in both children and adults, afflictions that can cause hundreds of seizures a day and often lead to death. The oil is harvested from the marijuana plant but does not create the high that other forms of marijuana produce.

During the session, Peake's House Bill 885 would have provided immunity from prosecution to anyone who was in possession of the particular cannabis oil the bill wants to make legal. It also would have cleared the way for patients and their parents to travel outside of Georgia to find a supply, most likely in Colorado because it allows the oil's use in limited amounts.