ATLANTA, GA — Supporters of cannabis law reform are concerned House Bill 885 will not deliver the cannabis medicine that is needed by thousands of patients in Georgia. Leading advocacy group Georgia CARE Project has turned their attention to a new bill filed by State Senator Curt Thompson (D-5th). Senate Bill 432 was filed after cross-over day and addresses many of the issues raised in HB-885.
According to James Bell, a lobbyist for marijuana law reform, the proposed legislation (HB-885) falls short in delivering quality, safe and legal access to cannabis. One component of the bill would give immunity from prosecution to anyone who smuggles cannabis extracts into Georgia. Bell claims the proposal encourages profiteers and patients to violate federal laws that could land someone in federal prison for ten years to life.
“HB-885 sets up yet another black market and jeopardizes the freedom of those seeking legal medicine”, Bell said. “We need to legalize cultivation of cannabis in Georgia. We need comprehensive legislation that removes cannabis from the criminal elements.”
Georgia CARE grudgingly supported HB-885 in hope that it would spark debate and culminate in a bill that would provide legal access. Instead, HB-885 is so restrictive that even sponsors say it may never get cannabis into the hands of patients.
Bell said after reading Senator Thompson’s 24 page bill (SB-432) he will focus his attention on the 2015 legislative session and begin to work toward a better bill that allows for legal cultivation, dispensing and doctors recommendations for cannabis use.
“Putting patients in criminal jeopardy is no solution to this issue. Lawmakers seem willing to entertain a broader, more comprehensive approach to cannabis therapeutics. We cannot look to states like Colorado for a solution and then turn a blind eye to a similar legislative model”, said Bell.