Peake introduces new medical marijuana bill

Rep. Allen Peake on Wednesday introduced legislation to grow and cultivate medical marijuana in Georgia under strict controls to treat an expanded list of medical conditions.

Peake, a Macon Republican, pre-filed House Bill 722, which would create a maximum of six private, but state-licensed, growing operations to produce the cannabis oil. The bill would require the state to license the manufacturers by Dec. 1 and that medical marijuana be available for patients by July 1, 2017.

The bill will officially be introduced when lawmakers return to session on Monday.

Lawmakers last year approved Peake's plan to make it legal for Georgians suffering from eight disorders to possess a limited form of cannabis oil. But, with no source of the medication here, patients and their families have to travel to other states to purchase it and risk arrest by transporting it back home.

More than 400 patients have registered for the state program, Peake said.

Peake’s bill, which is based on Minnesota’s law, includes plans for strict controls over the manufacturing process as well as systems for tracking the drug as it’s grown, processed, stored and transferred. Local and state law enforcement would have real-time access to the information as well as daily updates on sales.

As under current law, patients would have to provide a doctor’s certification to join the state program.

The bill faces an uncertain future, however, as Gov. Nathan Deal has said he does not support it and a special commission the governor created recommended against creating a Georgia-based manufacturing program. Recent polling, however, suggests a vast majority of Georgians support the idea.