The Georgia Senate passes a bill to expand Georgia’s medical marijuana law but is setting up a showdown with the House that may not be decided until the 40th and final day of the legislative session.
The measure by Sen. Ben Watson (R-Savannah), who is a doctor, adds autism to the list of conditions that can legally use cannabis oil but lowers current THC levels from 5 to 3 percent.
He admits there have been no problems with current THC levels reported by the 1,300 patients who are registered with the state or from the 300 physicians who are able to prescribe it.
Despite adding autism, children diagnosed with the condition who are under 18 would not be allowed to use it unless their condition was deemed severe.
Efforts to change the bill on the floor of the Senate, including lowering the THC levels to 1 percent and another to keep it at the current 5 percent, failed.
Several parents, who have been fighting to expand the law to include more conditions, watched the debate including Sebastien Cotte, whose six-year-old son uses cannabis oil with 5 percent THC for his seizures.
“We moved to Colorado once, I hope we don’t have to do it twice. But I don’t know,” he tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.
Shannon Cloud, who uses it to treat her daughter's seizure disorder, is equally dismayed.
“It just doesn’t make sense to take away from patients. If they have something that’s working, why would we go back?”
Watson told reporters after the bill passed 41-12 that it puts the Senate in a good position to negotiate with the House which has its own bill.
“I would hope that we can be patient. I think we’ll get to where we all want to be and that’s for what’s best for the state of Georgia, what’s best of the patients, and best for healthcare,” he says.
The House bill expands the list of conditions by six including autism, PTSD, AIDS, Tourette syndrome, intractable pain, Alzheimer’s, and those in hospice care. It’s expected to go before a House committee next week.