Speaker Looks to Have Medical Marijuana Vote; Senate Committee Approved a Bill Granting Legal Use of Cannabis Oil for 8 Conditions

By Foody, Kathleen | The Florida Times Union, March 24, 2015 | Go to article overview

Speaker Looks to Have Medical Marijuana Vote; Senate Committee Approved a Bill Granting Legal Use of Cannabis Oil for 8 Conditions


Foody, Kathleen, The Florida Times Union


Byline: Kathleen Foody

ATLANTA | Georgia House Speaker David Ralston says he hopes both chambers will vote this week on a bill allowing people with eight medical conditions to use a type of medical marijuana.

Ralston told The Associated Press in an interview Friday that he'd rather not wait until the final week of the legislative session to consider that bill. Lawmakers hope to wrap up the session's 40 working days on April 2.

After an emotional, lengthy hearing Thursday, a Senate committee approved a bill granting legal use of cannabis oil for cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, mitochondrial disease, fibromyalgia, Parkinson's disease and sickle cell anemia. A House version sponsored by State Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, would also have allowed people with fibromyalgia to use the oil but the Senate panel cut that diagnosis.

"Anytime you make a list, you're going to have people that want to add to or take from [it]," Ralston said. "I think we're going to have to wait and see how this is implemented on the ground after it's signed into law."

The bill is on the Senate's floor calendar for Tuesday. Peake said Monday that if the Senate makes no further changes, he will urge House members to back it and get the bill to Gov. Nathan Deal within the day.

TO-DO LIST

Ralston said House lawmakers have three remaining major tasks: considering the governor's constitutional amendment to take over failing schools, negotiating with the Senate over differences between each chamber's approach to the next budget and a much-debated transportation package.

A study committee last year concluded that it will cost an additional $1 billion per year just to maintain roads and bridges. Ralston said he won't set specific numbers but lawmakers should keep the state's needs in mind.

"I'm not going to say if we come up a little bit short of that, that I wouldn't accept that," Ralston said. …

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