State Rep. Allen Peake pre-files bill that expands state medical marijuana law
His proposal is almost identical to Minnesota’s system. Peak said Minnesota’s structure is recognized as the most tightly regulated in the county. Peake wants to expand the law because those who qualify to use medical marijuana in Georgia have to travel out of state and bring it back, which is illegal.
“[They] risk violating federal law bringing it back here. So why not have a safe, lab tested product, produced, distributed here in Georgia for our hurting citizens that really need it,” said Peake.
Peake pre-filed House Bill 722 at the capitol Wednesday. This gives people time to review it, ask questions and give input. Peake welcomes this feedback because he believes in order for everyone to be comfortable with an in-state growth model, people need to voice their concerns so he can address them.
“We need a safe, lab tested product, grown in Georgia, processed here in Georgia and distributed here in Georgia. What we did last year was just the first step and it was a big first step,” said Peake.
People with eight different medical conditions can legally use cannabis oil in Georgia.
“[We] still want to make sure they have access to a safe, lab tested product without violating federal law, risking getting arrested, going across state lines and transporting it back to their loved ones,” explained Peake.
Some of the key elements of HB 722 Peake released to his colleagues are as follows:
- Limited licensees (2-6) who are vertically integrated. Vertically integrated means they cultivate, produce and dispense the final product
- Seed to sell tracking system required for tight security
- Limited medical conditions, with some additions to the current list (PTSD, Alzheimer’s and EB,) removal of end stage qualifiers and ability to add/delete medical conditions through appeal to Department of Public Health
- Addition of intractable pain with new definition in code that is more stringent than chronic pain
- Smoking prohibited. Only application by liquid, pill or oil
- Strict regulatory structure administered by DPH
- No taxes charged on purchases, treated like any medicine
- Patient has to be certified by their physician
- All product has to be lab tested by an independent third party
- Only licensed pharmacists at a dispensary may provide patients with medicine
- Patients are provided protection against discrimination in employment, child custody and organ transplants
- Tougher criminal penalties for violations of this new law
The majority of the Georgia Commission on Medical Cannabis recently rejected growing the drug in Georgia. Law Enforcement officials opposed the in-state growth model because it’s against federal law.
“As a law enforcement officer, I can not take that position. No matter what my sympathies are with family members and victims of crimes. The law is the law and that’s what we’re to uphold,” said GBI Director Vernon Keenan at the last Georgia Commission on Medical Cannabis meeting.
Governor Nathan Deal also expressed his opposition for growing marijuana in Georgia. Peake is confident he can address those concerns.
“I’m optimistic that I can provide a good bill to my colleagues that we can move through the legislative process to get on the governor’s desk and give him the opportunity to look at it and say this is something that works here in Georgia and be willing to sign the bill into law,” said Peake.
Peake expects the bill to be assigned to committee by the end of next week. The 2016 General Assembly starts Monday, January 11. You can view the entire bill by clicking on the attachment at the top of this story.