Put aside for the moment the terrible flaws of these recent spate of bills we’ve told you about that legalize the possession of only high-CBD/low-THC marijuana extracts. Knowing the truth about cannabis as we do, knowing the whole plant in its natural form works better than any individual or combination of its extracts, it makes us cringe when we report on CBD-only legislation. Of course, knowing as we do how the prohibition of marijuana is unjust and cruel, we’d all be voting for whole plant legalization for all people, regardless of health condition, so any patient who needed could get it.
Put that aside for a moment and let’s talk about Georgia. This talk will be familiar enough to apply to Alabama, Utah, Kentucky, South Carolina and many other wonderful US states not as educated about cannabis that are considering CBD-only legislation, but since I’ve spent a couple of weeks here, it will be Georgia-specific.
This is a state where county sheriffs will raid a home, pull a teenage girl from her bed at 5am with a weapon to her head, over nothing but one-and-a-half grams of pot. This is a state where an old unused grow light is enough to face a 10-year felony sentence. When I began visiting here to help activists three years ago, our demonstrations at the capitol building were met with derision. Now those activists are registered lobbyists meeting with numerous elected officials who are only beginning to talk about medical marijuana, a little bit about decriminalization and legalization is just a little too far off for most.
This CBD-only bill the legislature was considering was, from a practical perspective, a cruel joke. Only epileptic patients would be covered, they’d have fly to Colorado, establish a one-month residence, get a doctor to sign for a medical marijuana card, get high-CBD oil at a dispensary, break Colorado law and Denver Airport regs taking it out of state, break federal trafficking laws by crossing state lines, and then once they got back to Georgia, then they’d be immune from arrest and prosecution.
But from a political perspective, it was a miracle. Lawmakers in Georgia feel they have be so “anti-marijuana” that they have to incentivize their sickest citizens to break state and federal laws, and then only if it’s for the stuff that “doesn’t get you high.” But there they were, on the final day of the legislative session, trying to pass something that advanced the idea that marijuana is medicine, no matter how small an advance. There they were in the hour before midnight, with the Senate having passed the bill unanimously and the House having only four no votes.
Then along comes Senator Renee Untermann. For five years, she has been pursuing a bill to mandate insurance coverage for kids with autism. Her bill never advances. So, seeing the popularity of the medical marijuana measure, she attached her pet cause as an amendment to the Senate version. The House in no uncertain terms would not pass the medical marijuana bill with the autism amendment and the Senate could not get Sen. Untermann to withdraw the amendment, as she proudly boasted of “holding the bill hostage.”
Consider the irony: the tiniest amount of progress to be made helping kids with epilepsy use a form of medical marijuana was obstructed by one senator who wanted to help kids with autism, many of whom could be helped by forms of medical marijuana. Welcome to Georgia!