Governor lays out plan for medical marijuana in Georgia

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ATLANTA —

Gov. Nathan Deal has laid out a major mandate for medical marijuana in Georgia.
 
The move comes just weeks after a bill to legalize cannabis oil died in the legislature.
 
The governor and his staff have been working on the bill quietly for weeks. While it won't do what the General Assembly failed to get done last session, they say it will pave the way for children to one day get the help they need.
 
"Our priority here is children with seizures," Deal said.
 
By executive order, Deal pledged to fast-track the state's path forward on medical marijuana.
 
"There is a sense of urgency here. These families need hope. They need to know that all of us are doing everything we can to move a solution forward,” Deal said.
 
Deal's two-pronged plan involves ramping up clinical trials on the effectiveness of cannabis oil on children with certain seizure disorders. 
 
The first is through a partnership between Georgia Regents University and G.W. Pharmaceuticals. 
 
The second will be through GRU's own clinical trials using medical marijuana from a federal program in Mississippi.
 
"I just think that we don't need to wait until the next session of the General Assembly and then have to take up, even if they are successful in passing legislation, to begin the process that we can begin right now," Deal said.
 
Legislation to decriminalize possession of cannabis oil in Georgia died in the final hours of this year’s session.
 
Senate leaders refused to bring it to a vote after the House stripped a late Senate amendment requiring insurance companies to provide coverage for children with autism.
 
"That was very painful to go through. I believe we all learned a lesson that we don't need to put children as bargaining chips in legislation. That's what we've all learned," said Rep. Allen Peake.
 
The governor said his office has been working with the FDA to make those trials happen as soon as possible, but so far there is no timetable for when they'll start or which kids will qualify.