A broad expansion to Georgia's medical marijuana law passed a key House panel Monday, moving a step closer to a floor vote ahead of Friday's deadline for passage.
House Bill 65, sponsored by state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, would double the list of illnesses and conditions eligible for treatment with medical marijuana in Georgia to include AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, autism, autoimmune disease, epidermolysis bullosa, HIV, peripheral neuropathy and Tourette's syndrome.
Additionally, the bill would let people who have registration cards from other states that similarly allow possession of certain low-THC cannabis oil to also possess the oil here.
The House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee passed the bill on a 7-3 vote, after making tweaks that would require annual reporting by doctors who oversee medical marijuana patients. The committee also removed post-traumatic stress disorder from the proposed list of newly eligible diseases.
Under Georgia's 2015 law, patients and, in the case of children, families who register with the state are allowed to possess up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil to treat severe forms of eight specific illnesses, including cancer, Parkinson's disease and epilepsy.
The oil can have no more than 5 percent THC, the component in the drug that makes people high.
Advancement of the legislation comes two weeks after the state Senate passed a medical marijuana measure that would add autism to the list of eligible conditions, but also reduce the allowable maximum THC level in the oil to 3 percent — a mandate unpopular with many of the law's advocates.
To have a clear path of becoming law, the bill must win passage from the House by Friday, which has been designated as Crossover Day for this legislative session. While parliamentary maneuvering can keep a bill alive past Crossover Day, making it from one side of the Capitol to the other by the end of that day makes final passage much more likely.