The Georgia Senate last night approved a limited medical cannabis bill that will allow for CBD-based oils for children with severe seizure disorders at the very last minute, saving the measure from dying out for the session. But the controversial addition of a completely unrelated measure requiring health insurers to cover behavioral therapy for children under six who have autism ended up killing the bill outright.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Allen Peake, a Republican from Macon, says the addition of the autism amendment was a bulky addition to what should otherwise be a simple bill. Instead, it forced the measure back to the house with no time before the session ended last night at midnight.
And it seems that State Sen. Renee Unterman is at least partially to blame, as she’s the one who held the bill hostage and said it wouldn’t move forward without the addition.
Frustrated parents of sick children were understandably upset, including Sebasian Cotte. “The problem is that before next year, some kids are going to die,” he told WSBTV.com.
Interestingly, the CBD bill didn’t actually allow anyone in Georgia to produce the cannabis oil. Instead, families with sick kids will have to travel out of state to medical marijuana dispensaries to pick up CBD-rich tonic.
Many Georgia lawmakers (and several newspapers) hinted that Colorado would be the source, but Colorado medical marijuana laws do not allow for reciprocation with other states and high-CBD oils aren’t exactly easy to come by on the recreational cannabis market yet. Also, it would be technically illegal under Colorado’s recreational pot laws to purchase recreational cannabis (even high-CBD medicine) and give it to a minor.
Realistically, this wasn’t a very workable “medical marijuana” program for the state, and even the Marijuana Policy Project — which cheerleads damn near anything that pushes cannabis forward — said it was a bad idea:
“We already know from similar programs in other states that this will be unworkable,” MPP leaders wrote in a statement. “Please ask your legislators to support an effective medical marijuana program in Georgia based on MPP’s model bill.”
But for now, even the substandard CBD bill is a pipe dream for parents who won’t have the legal protection to bring the CBD oil back to Georgia. And traveling or moving to Colorado like dozens of other families from around the country just isn’t an option for some.
“No, not with Jagger,” Cotte said. “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.”
Even more insulting, the Senate ended up passing a resolution to study medical marijuana over the next year. They apparently don’t want to listen to the evidence or their constituents that is right before them.