ATLANTA — A Georgia lawmaker will officially introduce a bill legalizing cannabis oil for people with cancer, seizure disorders and other chronic diseases on Monday as the General Assembly returns to action.
Rep. Allen Peake, a Republican from Macon, had discussed a broader bill allowing in-state growth of marijuana to manufacture the oil with low levels of THC, the chemical that can cause a high feeling for marijuana users. But Peake described his official proposal as a compromise with Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, who was unwilling to sign off on an in-state program.
In his state of the state address this month, Deal said he hopes to sign a bill legalizing the oil by the end of the year. Peake wants to begin committee hearings this week.
The compromise disappointed some Georgia parents of children with seizure disorders who moved to Colorado, where the oil is legal. They worry people will be unable to afford the travel or risk arrest when traveling through states where the product is not legal.
Blaine Cloud, whose daughter Alaina has a seizure condition, told reporters they were "disheartened and frustrated" but said families owed Peake some support.
"We need to get this bill passed so we can move on to the next fight," he said.
Peake said he's working on several options to help people avoid arrest while traveling to buy the oil or those who can't afford the trip. He said those include shipping low-THC products classified as hemp to Georgia or asking Deal to get a federal exemption allowing a state agency to obtain cannabis oil for 'compassionate-need' distribution.
If all else fails, Peake volunteered himself for trips to Colorado and "a little civil disobedience."
"It may just be that it takes someone like me being arrested to show the lunacy of having a product sold legally in one state ... but get arrested driving through Kansas," he said. "You would not believe the number of volunteers who have said 'I'll go with you.'"
The proposal also creates a commission to make recommendations by the end of the year about an in-state program to make and sell the product.
House Speaker David Ralston has said he supports the proposal. An attempt to pass a similar bill last year failed when some lawmakers attached an unrelated bill requiring insurance coverage of children with autism.