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Supporters Rally for Medical Marijuana at Georgia’s Capitol

Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News
Audio version of this story here.

Besides the state budget, one of the biggest issues lawmakers are considering this legislative session is whether to allow Georgians to use medical marijuana. Tuesday, pro marijuana supporters rallied outside the state Capitol. 

During the rally, members of Peachtree NORML released the results of a phone survey from its parent organization.  The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws poll says 62 percent of Georgia voters are in favor of decriminalizing the drug.

But Peachtree NORML executive director Sharon Ravert says its currently focusing its efforts on helping Georgians gain access to medical marijuana.

“We are very hopeful that this issue will be given the attention it deserves. The issue is mainstream and supporters are in the majority.”

During the rally, Ravert thanked Republican state Senator Josh McKoon of Columbus for his legislation to create a committee to study medical marijuana in Georgia.

Senator McKoon did not attend the rally. Earlier in the day, McKoon said he proposed the legislation after hearing from constituents with children affected by seizure disorders and cancer survivors undergoing chemotherapy.

 “I believe that there is lot of information out there that indicates we need to make a change to our existing law regarding medical marijuana. However, I think there is an awful lot of information we need to get as a state legislature before we start talking about dropping a bill to make those changes.”

Republican state representative Allen Peake of Macon also was not at the rally. He wants to propose a bill on medical marijuana as early as this week. Peake says his bill would allow those with seizure disorders to receive a marijuana extract in the form of an oil.

“This is not providing a joint to children or opening the door for recreational use of marijuana. This is a very limited, very restricted, very well regulated, managed by physicians use of the part of the cannabis plant that has some medical benefits. They’ve seen great success in Colorado with kids who are using the high in CBD but low in THC, the high effect.”

Peake says his legislation would expand a Georgia law passed in 1980. Under the law, lawmakers created a state sponsored program to research the effects of medical marijuana on cancer and glaucoma patients. However, Peake says the board qualifying doctors and patients for the program is inactive. Peake says his bill would reinstitute the board and allow for those with seizure disorders to be placed into the existing law.

Peake is introducing the bill after visiting with 4-year-old Haleigh Cox who suffers from uncontrolled seizures and suffers up to 100 seizures a day.

Cox’s parents are hoping lawmakers will act this legislative session. If not, Haleigh’s mother says she will have to move to Colorado with her daughter so she  can gain access to the marijuana extract in the form of an oil.