Today legislators will be greeted on the Capitol steps by representatives of the Peachtree Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). The group will be delivering 5,000 signed petitions to Gov. Deal supporting the end of marijuana prohibition and holding a 1 p.m. media conference to announce results of a public opinion poll on marijuana laws.
The medical marijuana issue picked up steam last Friday after state Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, filed Senate Resolution 756, calling for the creation of a study committee to look at possible legislation that would allow prescription of marijuana for certain serious medical conditions.
State Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, another staunch conservative, joined the movement for a study committee after he witnessed the case of Haleigh Cox, a 4-year-old Forsyth, Ga., girl who was having hundreds of daily seizures, which were greatly slowed by a cannabis oil derivative of marijuana. The family ended up going to Colorado, where they could legally obtain the drug.
The local Carroll delegation seems to reflect the feelings of many other state lawmakers on hearing evidence on how medical marijuana might be useful, at least in some limited situations.
Sen. Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton, said Monday that he’s not in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, as in Colorado, and he also is against a sweeping medical marijuana law. However, he did indicate he is open to looking at derivatives that might be medically useful.
“From what I understand, with the oil, the intoxicants have been removed,” Dugan said. “I’m willing to listen to that. I want some medical professionals to come forward and tell me what benefits it would have, and I’ll make a determination from that.”
He said states that have passed medical marijuana bills have suffered widespread abuse, and he feels Georgia doesn’t need that.
Sen. Mike Crane, R-Newnan, said so far, he’s seen only anecdotal evidence from personal stories, and he’s looking forward to hearing medical presentations.
“If the stories prove true, and we see remarkable results with certain candidates, this sounds like one more tool in the doctor’s cache of things that could relieve untold suffering for many,” Crane said. “There’s more discussions to be had, and I think we’re going to see that. It’s something I’m very concerned about, but very cautious. As we move forward, I’m going to take extreme caution on this issue.”
Rep. Randy Nix, R-LaGrange, said he wonders if there’s any other drugs that can do the same thing as the medical marijuana.
“If the answer is ‘no,’ then I’m willing to listen to the debate,” Nix said. “I would want it to be something in a pill or oil form, and legislation that would have a narrow scope of what was allowed. I won’t support legislation if it looks like people want to use it to get their foot in the door to support recreational marijuana. That’s my concern.”
Nix said if the drug works for children with seizures, maybe that’s the only thing for which it should be prescribed.
“I’m not heartless,” he said. “If that’s the only thing that will help these children, let’s figure out a way to do it, but let’s not use it as that door opener to fully legalize marijuana.”
Other members of the local delegation were contacted Monday, but hadn’t responded by press time.
Todd Rehm, editor of GaPundit, last Friday cited a poll released Thursday by InsiderAdvantage, which showed widespread support among Georgia voters for medicinal marijuana legislation. It found that 51 percent favored it, while 27 percent opposed it and 22 percent had no opinion or were undecided.