2. State Policy Analysis

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Legalizing marijuana in Georgia is a very delicate situation:

The goal of legislative HB 885 is to legalize medical cannabis in the state of Georgia to treat certain conditions. It hopes to acheive integration of the drug into the healthcare system by establishing a regulatory system of both research and operation. This legislative bill will enable individual physicians and their patients to participate in a state sponsored program for the investigative use of marijuana cannabis and its derivatives. Qualified physicians and surgeons throughout the state academic medical centers will be able to study the benefits of the drug in a controlled clinical setting, and additional knowledge will be gained with respect to dosage and effects.

It is the intent of the General Assembly in enacting this legislative bill to permit research into the therapeutic and treatment applications of marijuana cannabis and its derivatives in cancer, glaucoma, and seizure disorder patients. This would allow qualified physicians academic medical centers approved by the Patient Qualification Review Board created by Code Section 43-34-124 to provide authorize use of the drug on a compassionate basis.

The drug would be offered to seriously ill persons suffering from cancer, as well as the severe side effects of chemotherapy or radiation treatment, and to persons suffering from glaucoma who are not responding to conventional treatment, and to persons suffering from seizure disorders, which persons would otherwise have no lawful access to it. It is the further intent of the General Assembly to facilitate clinical trials of marijuana cannabis and its derivatives, particularly with respect to persons suffering from cancer, and glaucoma, and seizure disorders who would be benefited by use of the drug.

The program shall be limited to patients who are certified to the board by a physician selected academic medical center as being: Cancer patients involved in a life-threatening situation in which treatment by chemotherapy or radiology has produced severe side effects; or Glaucoma patients who are not responding to conventional controlled substances; or seizure disorder patients. No patient may be admitted to the program without full disclosure by the physician academic medical center of the experimental nature of the program and of the possible risks and side effects of the proposed treatment. The cost of any blood test required by the Federal Food and Drug Administration prior to entrance into the program shall be paid by the patient or through the program, donated study funds, or funding seeking entrance into the program.

Presently there is conflict among various interested parties on what the bill proposes as a solution. Scientist Dr. Margaret Haney, director of the Marijuana Research Laboratory at Columbia University in New York (one of a handful of U.S. labs that perform government funded studies on marijuana) told CBS News that she is “uncomfortable” with the absence of evidence that Charlotte’s Web treats seizures, despite parents success stories. Haney said, “cannabis is not the world’s most dangerous drug by any stretch but that does not mean it is without potential long term cognitive and psychiatric consequence, especially when it comes to exposure to children.”

Amy-Brroks-Kayal, vice president of the American Epilepsy Society, warned that a few miraculous stories may not mean anything, epileptic seizures come and go for no apparent reason and scientists do not know what sort of damage Charlotte’s Wed could be doing to young brains. Until we have that information, as physicians, we can’t follow our first creed,which is do no harm, she said, suggesting that parents relocate so their children can get treated at one of the nation’s 28 top-tier pediatric epilepsy centers rather than move to Colorado.

A few of the unintended consequences relates to the fear of massive amounts of media attention focusing of children with disabilities as the main recipients of the bill, it will cause favoritism in legislators who support the bill yet really have little information of what it truly is. Many still fear conflict with the federal government, criticizing  HB 885 is not really the solution because they believe private medical research centers in Georgia will not risk going against federal rules. Many fear that this is perhaps a step into the general legalization of cannabis for recreation use. Some critics say the problem will not be fixed until cannabis is discriminalized for all uses, including recreational.

 

 

 

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