Ga. medical-marijuana bill dead for 2014 | News
ATLANTA - The effort to legalize medical marijuana in Georgia this year died at midnight despite votes favoring the move in both houses. The General Assembly adjourned for the 2014 session with the House and Senate stalemated over the move to tie the medical marijuana bill to insurance for children's autism.
On the 40th and last day of the session, the Senate approved, 54-0, House Bill 885 legalizing some forms of marijuana for medical uses, but added provisions requiring insurance coverage for treatment of autism in children.
The key sponsor, state Rep. Allen Peake (R) of Macon, said the bill wouldn't pass the House with the autism provision because it's seen as increasing the cost of health insurance for small businesses.
In a last-ditch effort late Thursday night, the House passed yet another bill that included medical marijuana and sent it to the Senate. Peake pleaded with the Senate to pass it.
On Twitter, Peake said the bill was on life-support.
But state Sen. Renee Unterman of Gwinnett County, the chairwoman of the Senate Health and Human Services committee, which added the autism provision, said she was insisting on it, and the Senate leadership closed ranks.
Presiding In the Senate chamber late Thursday night, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle fumed, repeatedly accusing the House of holding up action to help children on autism and foster care reform.
Midnight passed without further action on medical marijuana in either house, though the Senate endorsed a committee to study the issue.
Peake, a staunch conservative, surprisingly took up the cause after 13WMAZ reported on Haleigh Cox, a Monroe County 4-year-old who suffers from a seizure disorder. Her family wanted Haleigh to be treated with a liquid form of cannabis to reduce her seizures.
Haleigh and her mother have since relocated to Colorado where marijuana is legal. On Twitter, her mother Janea says Haleigh received her first treatment Wednesday and her seizures have lessened.
While marijuana is legal in Colorado, the treatment with cannabis oil has not been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration.
Check back with 13wmaz.com for updates and follow 13WMAZ's @TheTomGeorge on Twitter.