Georgia takes step toward legalizing medical marijuana

Wed Feb 25, 2015 5:47pm EST
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By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters) - A bill that would legalize medical marijuana in Georgia for patients with seizure disorders and other medical conditions cleared a big hurdle on Wednesday when the state House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the legislation.

The bill, which faltered last year on the last day of the legislative session, passed the House by a vote of 158-2 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

It would allow patients with diseases including cancer and multiple sclerosis to use a non-intoxicating oil derived from the marijuana plant.

To qualify, patients or their caregivers would have to register with the state Department of Public Health after getting a physician's certification that they are being treated for one of the medical conditions covered by the bill.

Georgia would become the 12th U.S. state to allow non-intoxicating oil for medical use, said Erik Altieri, spokesman for the pro-marijuana organization NORML. Another 23 states allow regular marijuana to be smoked for medicinal purposes, said Altieri.

The bill covers a “decent range of conditions” for medical marijuana use, said Altieri. A recent trend has been for legislatures to approve bills that only allow marijuana use in cases of seizure disorders, he added.

“We hope the Senate will support it as is and not amend it to be further restrictive,” said Altieri.

(Editing by Frank McGurty and Christian Plumb)