Legislature expands gun rights, says 'no' to medical marijuana

by: Lori Geary Updated:

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ATLANTA - Lawmakers did not pass a bill legalizing medical marijuana in Georgia, but did agree to expand gun rights.
 
The medical marijuana bill passed the Senate unanimously Thursday and it passed the House again with only two "no" votes.
 
Earlier in the day the Senate passed the bill unanimously, but attached a bill that requires insurance companies to cover therapies for young kids with autism. 

 “It's just frustrating that we've had such overwhelming support, 225 to 4 when you combine the votes in the House and the Senate, and to think that we might get nothing after all that support, it's frankly devastating,” said parent Shannon Cloud.

State Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Gwinnett County, pushed the autism amendment.

"They can blame me if they want to.  I have stood up for autism. I have worked my fingers to the bone for medical marijuana," Unterman said.

A bill that expands gun rights in the state did pass just before midnight and will now go to Gov. Nathan Deal to sign. It would allow guns in churches if leaders decide to allow them and would let certain school employees carry guns on campus.
 
After 40 days of fighting for the medical marijuana bill, you couldn't miss the looks of defeat on the faces of parents who have kids with severe seizure disorders. 
 
As the night wore on they were losing hope the bill that would legalize cannabis oil in Georgia would make the midnight deadline.

“The problem is before next year some kids are going to die,” said parent Sebastian Cotte.

Cotte will go back to the ICU Thursday night, where his 3-year-old remains.
 
The Georgia bill would have granted immunity from prosecution for parents that bring the oil to Georgia from a state where it's legal.
 
Parents with autistic kids have fought lawmakers on the issue for five years.
 
“The medical marijuana goes nowhere unless this right over here goes with it and that's the autism,” said Unterman.
 
“It's got nothing to do with us yet is seems like it's holding our bill completely back from passing when we've had overwhelming support,” said parent Blaine Cloud.

“Is it an option for you to get to Colorado?” Channel 2's Lori Geary asked Cotte.

“No, not with Jagger. He's too weak. We can barely make it to the doctor's appointment. We have more people coming to the house. Hospice, nurses and everybody. It's sad,” said Cotte.

It appears the Georgia parents who are now living in Colorado so their kids can have access to cannabis oil will be stuck there or face prosecution if they come back home.
 
The Senate did pass a resolution to study medical marijuana during the next year; that's likely to be the only action we see on the issue.


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