Making medical cannabis available to those who need it makes sense and is the right thing to do.
Selling, using and even cultivating controlled medical marijuana in Georgia has nothing to do with fostering a drug culture and incubating an environment for illegal behavior.
We support the efforts of Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, to make cultivation possible in Georgia, while making cannabis available to more patients for an expanded list of medical conditions.
We believe Gov. Nathan Deal’s over abundance of caution is unwarranted.
The abuse of a legal class of prescription drugs in Georgia — Oxycodone, Oxycontin and similar drugs in the opiate family — is a real problem in Georgia and catalyst for all kinds of illegal activity.
Legally regulated medical cannabis is not.
Rep. Peake is far from being some progressive liberal trying to open the door for recreational drug use.
In fact, he is Republican, Baptist and a conservative.
Peake has been touched by the plight of families, especially those with young children, who have either been denied access or have had to go outside of Georgia — creating a great financial burden and risking being charged with a crime — to get treatment that is effective for their serious medical conditions.
Prior to this year’s legislative session that resulted in the passage of very narrow legalization allowing the use of medical cannabis for a limited number of conditions, South Georgia Sen. Ellis Black, R-Valdosta, said the notion of making the drug available might not sit well with some constituents and other conservatives, but is an idea that is medically warranted and appears to be the right thing to do.
He was right.
Now it is time for Georgia lawmakers to push for change in federal law.
When the U.S. Congress made marijuana a Schedule I, illegal, drug in 1970 it said cannabis had no accepted medical use.
We now know that is not true.
Almost half of U.S. states have legalized the medical use of marijuana.
More than 400 people on the state’s medical cannabis registry travel out of state for treatment or risk violating a federal law that prohibits carrying the substance across state lines.
The governor’s Commission on Medical Cannabis, meeting in Atlanta, has said that prohibition in federal law is why they are reluctant to endorse a measure to allow cannabis to be grown in Georgia.
Few people doubt that medical cannabis is the only effective drug for many patients including some of those who suffer from epilepsy, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease and the negative effects of chemotherapy.
The patients should be able to get a prescription for a legal medication that works and not risk running afoul of the law.
It is time to change federal law.