State Senate passes its own version of medical marijuana bill

ATLANTA, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The Georgia Senate overwhelmingly passed its own version of a medical marijuana bill on Crossover Day.

The state Senate approved SB 185 54 to 1. It creates a five year program to research cannabidiol products to treat people under the age of 21 who suffer from severe seizure disorders. The bill’s sponsor says it could help approximately 300 children. The program would be designed and implemented by the Board of Regents.

State Senator David Lucas hopes the research would be conducted at Fort Valley State University. He abstained from voting in Friday’s vote. He believes the bill should cover more medical conditions.

“The other problem I had with 185 is that it does not cover cancer, HIV, or sickle cell anemia,” Lucas said.

Senators say they’re working to combine SB 185 with House Bill 1. HB 1 legalizes cannabis oil for people with seizure disorders, cancer, and seven other medical diagnoses. It also gives adults access to the medicine.

Sen. John Kennedy is confident lawmakers will come to an agreement.

“I fully anticipate a really strong cooperative effort to come up with something that everybody wants and everybody can live with,” Kennedy said. “And I think it will be more than what you see in the bill that we had today.”

HB 1’s sponsor, Rep. Allen Peake, tells 41NBC the Senate’s vote is a step in the right direction, but there is still a lot of work to do.

“I’m confident that as we attempt to merge the two bills together over the next week or two that maybe we can come to some resolution, some language that does do what we intend to do which is bring our medical refugees home,” Peake said.

Peake adds the way SB 185 is written now it will not help Georgia families who left the state seeking treatment come back home.

Friday marked Day 30 of the 2015 legislative session, also known as Crossover Day. This is the day a bill must pass its respective chamber in order for it to stay alive this year and give the other chamber time to consider it. There are 10 legislative days left in the 2015 session.

The 2015 legislative session ends on April 2.

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