Georgia to federal government: ease legal restrictions on marijuana study

In a rare moment of easy consensus on marijuana law, a Georgia legislative committee on Tuesday implored the federal government to ease legal restrictions on the study of marijuana.

The state House Health and Human Services Committee supported HR 1363 in a unanimous voice vote, and the committee's chairwoman, Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta, sponsored the resolution.

Battles have raged in recent years both in other U.S. states and in the Georgia Legislature about marijuana, as experience has shown that its ingredients can also be helpful to sufferers of disease. Scientific data evidence, however, is hard to come by, because the federal government tightly restricts marijuana studies. In a Catch-22, the government says there's not enough evidence to justify making it easier to research — but scientists say that only research could produce such evidence.

Marijuana is federally classified as a schedule I drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical value. HR 1363 asks the government either to reclassify it as a schedule II drug, or to pass the Marijuana Effective Drug Study Act (MEDS Act). Either would make the drug easier to study.

The resolution points out that more than half the states and the District of Columbia allow the use of medical marijuana for specific medical purposes. Georgia allows a type of marijuana with negligible strains of THC for use by patients with conditions including Alzheimer's disease or Tourette's syndrome, but such patients risk violating federal law when they acquire the drug.