Big new patients’ bill tees up for the 2016 session
Last update: January 13, 2016
The 2016 session is now underway, and Rep. Allen Peake’s HB 722 offers several critical improvements to Haleigh’s Hope Act — Georgia’s extremely limited low-THC medical cannabis law. HB 722 would allow for safe access to medical cannabis within Georgia, complete with local cultivation, processing, and testing. It would also remove current caps on THC, which means that a large percentage of patients who could benefit from the program would no longer be left behind, like they are today. These changes, along with the addition of more conditions including intractable pain, would provide the state’s most vulnerable residents with much-needed relief.
Early signs are very positive. Supporters include House Speaker David Ralston, Rep. John Meadows, chairman of the House Rules Committee, and Rep. Terry England, Chairman of the Budget and Fiscal Affairs Oversight Committee. If you have not done so already, please take a moment to tell your lawmaker that you want his or her support for this critical bill.
In addition, another positive bill was presented — this one by Sen. Harold Jones II. SB 254 would remove harmful felony charges for those in possession of more than one ounce of marijuana. Harsh penalties are ineffective, and they severely limit future prospects for jobs, housing, voting rights, food assistance, and education — prospects that can be permanently damaged, while costing Georgians tax revenue that is better spent on serious crime.
ACLU study shows Georgia’s harsh marijuana laws result in racially disproportionate arrest rates
Georgia has some of the most punitive marijuana laws in the country, with possession of a mere two ounces being punishable by up to 10 years in prison. It’s clear these laws have not been successful, and new evidence shows that Georgia’s laws are not being evenly enforced.
A 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that although blacks and whites use marijuana at nearly identical rates, blacks in Georgia are 3.7 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.
To receive news about Georgia marijuana policy reform as it happens, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s free legislative alert service, if you haven’t done so already. If you have any questions concerning the status of marijuana reform in Georgia, you can contact MPP at [email protected].