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Legal Expert Weighs in on Possible Medical Marijuana Fix

After a medical marijuana bill failed to reach his desk, Governor Deal said he would explore whether anything can be done before the next legislative session to allow Georgians with seizure disorders to legally use an oil based form of marijuana.

Former Georgia Supreme Court Justice Leah Ward Sears says she thinks it would be difficult for the governor to accomplish that through an executive order. But she says there might be something that can be done administratively.

Ward Sears says she doesn’t think Governor Deal can issue an executive order to give Georgians with seizure disorders the ability to legally use an oil based form of marijuana.

She says it’s because gubernatorial executive powers appear limited in the Georgia Constitution.

“And it seems to me that this kind of thing would be invading the province of the legislature, and I don’t think the executive can do that.”

But Ward Sears says it’s possible something can be done through a state agency.

“Perhaps. He would have to get with his lawyers and get with the agencies. He’d have to be very creative, but creative things often pass muster, maybe an experimental pilot project. There might be other things in other state laws that allow a governor to do something temporarily.”

On Monday, Governor Deal said he was moved by the families who pushed for the passage of the medical marijuana bill.

“I will be talking with all of our state agencies who have any kind of involvement in this issue to see if there’s something we can do to make this treatment possible, assuming that the proper foundation of law enforcement security is attached to it as well medical protections are attached to it.”

But Deal said he wasn’t sure whether he could use an executive order to make that a reality.

“I can’t say that at this point, because I don’t know what the governor’s office is in this arena. As you know, we’re dealing with federal statutes here that you have to be very mindful of that we don’t cross the line there that don’t cause us to be in conflict or cause individuals who are relying on our actions to be in conflict.”

Efforts to legalize an oil based form of marijuana called cannabidiol fell short on the last day of the legislative session as Republican lawmakers fought with each other over legislation to require insurance companies to cover autism treatment for those six and under.