Lawmaker's bill backs cultivation of medical marijuana

ATLANTA — A Georgia lawmaker has introduced a bill asking for a constitutional amendment allowing cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana.

Channel 2’s Richard Elliot reported on Twitter Thursday that state Rep. Allen Peake introduced the bill.

Peake hopes to convince lawmakers to allow a statewide vote for the state to oversee and regulate the in-state cultivation of marijuana for medical use. That decision would take the issue out of the governor's hands and put it in the hands of the voters.

"Maybe they'll be enough public support that we may gain some traction and potentially get it done either this year or next year to put it on the ballot in November 2018," he said.

Peake, a Macon Republican, in 2015 sponsored legislation allowing people with certain medical conditions to possess cannabis oil in the state.


Patients since have complained that getting the oil from other states is expensive and risky, but Peake hasn't been able to convince many colleagues to allow in-state marijuana growth.

Parent Corey Lowe, whose daughter Victoria suffers from seizures, said having no legal way to get the legal cannabis oil created a major dilemma for parents.

A bowl of medicinal marijuana is displayed in a booth at The International Cannabis and Hemp Expo April 18, 2010 at the Cow Palace in Daly City, California. 

"You kind of have to make a decision, and a lot of parents and a lot of caregivers are on the fence because they don't want to become a convicted felon for trying to save a loved one," Lowe said.

Peake also hoped to expand the medical conditions eligible for cannabis oil possession to include post-traumatic stress disorder, autism and other conditions.

The measures were introduced in the House. If approved by a two-thirds vote in the House and the Senate, one of the measures would ask voters to decide if they want medical marijuana grown in Georgia.

The real fight over the measures could happen in the Senate.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who leads the Senate, said Republicans in that chamber may be willing to expand conditions if lawmakers reduce the level of the chemical that causes a high, called tetrahydrocannabinol, allowed in the oil.

Cagle said he appreciates what medical cannabis can do, but he doesn't support the idea of growing it in Georgia.

"We can hopefully accomplish what's needed. I think when you get into cultivation in the state, that's where it becomes controversial," Cagle said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.