Ga. Representative giving concessions to help pass medical marijuana bill

by: Lori Geary Updated:

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ATLANTA - Anxious parents are at the state Capitol awaiting the fate of a bill that would legalize cannabis oil to treat severe seizure disorders.
 

Channel 2's Lori Geary was with those parents Tuesday as last-minute negotiating was still going on in the hallways and behind closed doors.
 
One of those bills is the medical marijuana bill, which looks a lot different now than it did even last week. 
 
On the eve of the last day of this year's legislation session, Rep. Allen Peake made yet another change to the bill that could legalize cannabis oil in Georgia, giving hope to parents who have kids with severe seizure disorders like Sheryl Sumlin.
 
“My daughter is 11 years old and she's had seizures every day of her life, already nine seizures today and she had rescue medication,” Sumlin said.
 
When Geary traveled to Colorado, where medical marijuana is legal, she met families from Georgia who are seeing proof the oil works. Kids who suffered hundreds of seizures a day are going weeks without any. 
 
“It's been an exciting journey, some people say, ‘How do you feel?’ It's just so exciting because I never thought in Georgia I may have this as an option,” Sumlin said.
 
And it's not a done deal yet. Peake told Geary he will strip the bill from 20 pages to one, leaving out all references to growing marijuana in Georgia.
 
The only part left would allow families to travel to another state where cannabis oil is legal and bring it back to Georgia, where they would have protection from arrest or prosecution.
 
A sticking point could still be the bill the Senate is attaching, one that would force insurance companies to cover behavioral treatments for kids with autism until age 6.  
 
“I would not anticipate that our chamber is ready to approve an autism bill at this point,” Peake said.   
 
The changes would only allow immunity from prosecution as long as the oil is less than .8 percent THC, which is the part of the medical marijuana plant that gets users high.
 
Geary said the bill probably won't be settled until the last day of the session on Thursday, but supporters say they're optimistic.



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