Rewritten medical marijuana bill voted down in Georgia Senate

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

The Georgia Senate narrowly defeated a late effort to give Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper authority over the state’s fledgling medical marijuana program in a hastily rewritten bill that would have authorized up to 20 production licenses, a sharp increase from the two licenses previously awarded.

The Senate voted 28-26 on the move to agree to the House’s changes to the bill — one vote short of the majority needed to approve the legislation in the 56-person Senate.

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

“What are we doing? I don’t understand where these ideas came from,” said state Sen. Bill Cowsert, a Republican from Athens. “It makes us look like a bunch of clowns in here for passing something out without any deliberation at all.”

The original bill attempted to increase transparency and grant more medical marijuana licenses beyond the two companies that plan to begin selling the drug as soon as June. The bill could still be revived in a conference committee, but time was running out before this year’s legislative session ends Wednesday night.

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