State senator admits she's holding medical marijuana bill hostage

ATLANTA — The Georgia House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a medical marijuana bill but the potential law may have hit a snag in the Senate.

Gwinnett County Republican state Sen. Renee Unterman admitted to Channel 2's Lori Geary that she is holding up the bill until the House makes progress on her bills.

"My main concern is that you are giving false hope," Unterman told Geary. "I've had a lot of representatives come over here and say, 'I voted for the bill for the families,' but yet I know the bill does nothing."

The bill revives a long-dormant program allowing Georgia academic institutions to distribute medical cannabis to those suffering from medical conditions. The cannabis oil would be administered orally in a liquid, pill or as an injection.

Unterman told Geary she doesn't believe the research institutions would risk losing their federal funding by dispensing the drug.

Families with children who suffer from severe seizure disorders have spent two months lobbying lawmakers to make cannabis legal in Georgia.

Parents told Geary that Unterman has said she's holding the bill hostage until the House takes action on her bills, and she didn't deny it when Geary asked.

"Are you holding this medical marijuana bill hostage because of the what the House is doing?" Geary asked.

"Well, always when we get to the last 10 days of the session there's a lot of bills held hostage. I have worked on the autism bill and it has not had a hearing in the House," Unterman said.

Unterman told Geary she'll plan on hearings next week, but will look at other bills filed on the issue, including one that sets up a study committee to give lawmakers time to figure out how to comply with federal laws.

"These parents don't understand how the General Assembly works but this building is nothing but politics," she added.