Medical marijuana bill clears key hurdle

Legislation that would bring medical marijuana to Georgia for the first time now appears headed for the House floor.

House Bill 885, by Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, passed the House Health and Human Services Committee late Wednesday and should be considered by the entire House on Monday, Peake said.

The bill would allow seizure disorder patients to take orally an oil derived from the cannabis plant.

A major change was made to the bill that should help clear a key hurdle. Originally, Peake’s plan was to bring in the oil from Colorado. But federal law bans transporting the material between states.

The version of the bill approved Wednesday would allow the state’s five research universities to cultivate cannabis to harvest the oil, which has proved to be successful in helping patients who suffer from seizures. Peake, the Republican caucus secretary, proposed the legislation after meeting a young girl in his district who suffers from seizures.

The bill’s supporters include the Medical Association of Georgia, the state’s largest professional group of physicians.

The vote Wednesday was important as Monday is Crossover Day, the last day bills can typically move from one chamber to the other.

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