State Senate is considering reopening Georgia’s ‘flawed’ 2015 medical cannabis law

State Senate is considering reopening Georgia’s ‘flawed’ 2015 medical cannabis law

Patients in Georgia have waited for years for legal access to medical cannabis products approved by the state legislature years ago, and on Thursday it could be an all-or-nothing matter for the latest bill aimed at fixing the process.

In 2015, lawmakers voted that people suffering from serious illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or cancer should take a special product with a small amount of THC, the chemical that produces marijuana’s high may be. But legal battles have stalled the process, and patients continue to abstain from their medications, move out of state or risk evading the law. About 27,000 people are on the list.

Hartwell Republican Alan Powell’s House Bill 196 seeks to fix what he calls the fatally flawed process of selecting the companies that can produce the low-THC oil that doctors say can help some alleviate chronic diseases. It passed house 170-2. To land on Gov. Brian Kemp’s desk, it must first exit the Senate Committee on Regulated Industries and Utilities and pass the Senate in the fading days of the 2023 Georgia General Assembly.

The committee’s chairman, Senator Bill Cowsert, a Republican from Athens, said the bill would go to a vote Thursday morning. Wednesday marks the last day of the legislature.

It aims to increase the number of licenses granted to marijuana growers from six to 15, and to offer licenses to potential growers who have challenged their refusals in court. Powell said that’s the quickest way to solve the problem.

“In my opinion, the easy way to fix it was to take it out of court, to take these protesters and license them,” he said at a committee hearing on Wednesday. “Now I can’t say if they weren’t the best choice or the last choice, but they went through the process. You have submitted your documents. You have appealed. They protested and then filed suit because they felt they had been wronged. Only history will tell if they were right or wrong.”

Powell suggested that he felt the selection process was improperly conducted.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you what the members of the Regulated Industries (Committee) in the House found out from the questions, that from all the answers and everything that was put forward you could have gotten the same answer from everyone of the companies, one would get a five-point rating and the other a one or zero,” he said. “I mean, there was no rhyme or reason that was the rationale for the lawsuit, I suppose.”

Powell’s bill would also subject the state medical cannabis commission to Georgia’s Open Records Act, which Powell said will bring more transparency to the agency.

Jeremy Berry, an attorney representing Trulieve Georgia, one of the winners, said calling the trial secret was a mischaracterization. He said the winners are able to supply everyone on the list, and adding new breeders will flood the market with useless marijuana. And rewarding bidders who lose fairly and honestly could set an unintended precedent, he said.

“The protesters knew the rules, they played by the rules, and now they’re upset and want to do it again,” he said. “All this will do is encourage future contractors who lose to just go to the legislature. So someone bidding on a pavement contract if they lose, you know what? It will make this legislature a de facto evaluation committee for every procurement.”

Meanwhile, the winning companies say they are moving forward with their plans. Trulieve started growing in September and hopes to have its product available by late April or early May, Berry said. Robin Fowler, founder and CEO of Botanical Sciences, another contract winner, said his company is aiming to have merchandise on the market by early summer.

Read more here: Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *