Legislative Update from the Capitol and Atlanta City Council – Week of Feb. 20th

This week has been a busy week for the issue of cannabis in Georgia.

Here is a recap of the events and an important ACTION ITEM.


Atlanta City Ordinance:

On Tuesday, the city of Atlanta held a hearing on the repeal and reform of certain “quality of life” ordinances that have been used to criminalize poverty – like arrests for jaywalking. One of the issues is also marijuana possession. Under state law, Georgia cities have the authority to adjudicate over marijuana cases in municipal court.

The question for Atlanta  – Should the city ordinance be repealed or modified?

Georgia CARE Director James Bell spoke to the issue and recommended to the public safety subcommittee to keep and modify the ordinance similar to that of the city of Clarkston, GA. That ordinance allows for citation for the possession of one ounce or less and a $75 fine, with no arrest or criminal record.

Georgia CARE Project established the “City by City” initiative to encourage local governments to reduce the harmful impact that state laws wreak on the lives of Georgians across the state.


State Level

House Bill 65:

Rep. Allen Peake presented his medical cannabis oil bill to the House Judiciary Non-civil committee. No vote was taken but the bill will be up for a full committee vote as soon as next week. The bill will add 8 more medical conditions to existing law and removes “end stage” requirements for many of the conditions. A competing bill in the senate (SB-16), which we oppose, was passed on the floor the Senate and will have to reconciled in the house. The bill would lower THC to 3% in oil.


Senate Bill 105:

Sen. Harold Jones II presented his marijuana law “harm reduction” bill to the Senate Judiciary subcommittee where it passed by a vote of 3-1. The bill would establish a citation with no arrest and a $300 fine for ½ ounce or less, and move the felony possession line to 2 ounces from 1 ounce. James Bell from the Georgia CARE Project and others activists testified before the committee.

The Senate Judiciary committee is voting on SB-105 on Monday, the 27th at 4pm. This will decide whether it goes to the Senate floor so it’s very important! Please find details on an action item to contact committee members below.


House Bill 465:

Rep. John Pezold filed this Industrial Hemp Commission bill following the state of Kentucky’s efforts to grow and experiment with hemp cultivation. Hemp is defined as possessing .3% THC or less. Rep. Allen Peake, author of the medical cannabis oil bill, and Rep. Tom McCall, chairman of the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs have co-signed the bill with others.


Please Take Action:

On Monday February 27 starting at 9am in Room 328 in the Capitol, Georgia CARE Project is hosting the:

5th Annual Cannabis Awareness Day

We invite citizens to come to the State capitol and help advocate for the bills being debated. We will provide talking points, tips on how to speak with legislators, and suggestions on how to accomplish our goals for the day.

Georgia SB 105: Marijuana Harm Reduction Bill Filed

This week (1/1/2017) Georgia Senator Harold V. Jones II of Augusta filed a “marijuana harm reduction” bill in the state Senate (Georgia SB 105) that moves the felony amount from one ounce to two ounces and allows for a $300 fine only for a half ounce or less. This bill also address court jurisdiction in handling marijuana cases.

Georgia CARE Project director James Bell said they have been working with Sen. Jones on this bill and view it as a harm reduction bill that will lessen the negative impact that current marijuana laws have on the citizens of Georgia.

According to Bell, this bill does no advance decriminalization or legalization but will have a major impact on how the courts deal with marijuana prohibition. The bill is viewed as a measure that could realistically pass, as it is in line with Gov. Deal’s criminal justice reform initiatives.

“By moving the felony amount from one ounce to two ounces, we prevent thousands of Georgians from becoming felons,” Bell said. “Allowing for a $300 fine for small amounts will eliminate the risk of prison time for many more citizens.”

Georgia SB 105 is a step in the right direction for marijuana law reform as public opinion has shifted to a more tolerable view of the prohibited plant.

Senate co-sponsors of the bill include – Elena Parent (42nd), Vincent Fort (39th), Michael ‘Doc’ Rhett (33rd), Gail Davenport (44th) and Donzella James (35th).

Our Position: Georgia CARE Project supports the legalization of cannabis but also supports any measure to reduce the harm caused by prohibition. Cannabis should not be a crime and citizens should have the right to possess and consume cannabis responsibly.

Georgia Medical Marijuana Legislation in 2017

Georgia Medical Marijuana Legislation in 2017

The 2017 Georgia General Assemble began on January 9th.

During the first week of the session, Georgia lawmakers filed three cannabis related bills dealing with Georgia’s medical marijuana system.

We were there on the first day of session and have continued to be present and want to bring you up to date on these pieces of legislation.

House Resolution 36 (HR 36)

Rep. Allen Peake filed House Resolution 36 proposing a Constitutional amendment allowing the public to vote YES or NO on the in-state production and sale of “cannabis medicine” with tax revenue being dedicated to “drug treatment programs” within the state.

The short two page resolution has six initial signors. The summary of the resolution is as follows:

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution so as to authorize the General Assembly to provide by law for the regulation of the production of cannabis and sale of medical cannabis to certain individuals for medical usage as provided by law; to provide that the fees paid from the production of cannabis and state tax proceeds from the sale of medical cannabis be dedicated; to provide that such funds shall not lapse; to provide for submission of this amendment for ratification or rejection; and for other purposes.”

If the resolution passes in the 2017 or 2018 legislative session, the proposed vote would take place in the November 2018 General Election and will look like this:

In State Cultivation Referendum

House Bill 65 (HB 65)

Rep. Peake also filed House Bill 65 which would amend the current “Low THC Oil” law established by HB-1 in 2015. The bill eliminates the requirement that a disease be “severe” and “end stage” and includes additional medical conditions for which cannabis oil can legally be used.

The proposed additional conditions currently include the list below. This list could change if the bill is amended in the process.

  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Intractable pain
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
  • Alzheimer’s disease.

The bill also removes the one year residency requirement for registry of patients and the requirement for doctors to file quarterly reports on patients using the cannabis oil. Both of these represent intentionally restrictive elements to the existing law.

The summary of the bill reads:

“To amend Code Section 31-2A-18 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to the establishment of the Low THC Oil Patient Registry, definitions, purpose, registration cards, quarterly reports, and waiver forms, so as to change provisions relating to conditions and eligibility; to provide a definition; to remove certain reporting requirements; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.”

Senate Bill 16 (SB 16)

Senate Bill 16 filed by Senator Watson of the 1st, Senator Unterman of the 45th, and others, reduces the allowed THC in cannabis oil from 5% to 3%. It also adds Autism spectrum disorder to the list of legally treatable conditions.

The bill’s summary:

“To amend Article 8 of Chapter 12 of Title 16 and Code Section 31- 2A-18 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to the regulation of low THC oil and the establishment of the Low THC Oil Patient Registry, definitions, purpose, registration cards, quarterly reports, and waiver forms, respectively, so as to change the definition of low THC oil; to change provisions relating to conditions eligible for use of low THC oil; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.”

Our Position

Georgia CARE Project is currently reviewing the legislation and will offer our position in the near future.

Other Legislation?

We anticipate at least one to two additional bills being filed in the coming weeks and we will look forward to updating you on that as soon as it becomes official.

We plan to continue working at the Capitol to communicate to lawmakers that Georgians are ready for reform and that we want to see more compassionate treatment options for patients, caretakers, and doctors alike.