Medical marijuana bill to get first legislative hearing

Legislation that would expand Georgia’s medical marijuana program to include an in-state harvest and production system will get its first hearing next week.

The House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee will meet from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to consider House Bill 722, sponsored by Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon. Supporters will be allowed to testify at this initial meeting, and opponents at the next meeting, tentatively scheduled for Wednesday.

Peake’s bill would expand the list of disorders and diseases that qualify for the drug as well as license up to six manufacturing and distribution sites. The goal is to have medical marijuana available for patients by July 1, 2017.

Peake already has more than 100 co-signers for the bill — more than enough to pass it out of the House. But Gov. Nathan Deal continues to raise questions about the plan, while an overwhelmingly number of Georgians support the idea, according to a poll conducted this month for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Lawmakers last year passed legislation, which Deal signed into law, that made it legal for patients who suffer from eight diseases to possess a particular type of oil derived from marijuana, but with no in-state production, patients have to travel to other states to get it.

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