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Georgia: Atlanta Decriminalizes Marijuana

Atlanta, GA Decrim 2017

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last week, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced that he signed the historic city council ordinance decriminalizing marijuana.

“I am pleased to sign this ordinance, which eliminates jail time as a penalty for a conviction for possession of less than an ounce, into law,” Reed said. “People of color, young and low-income people are disproportionately jailed – with sentences up to six months – for possessing small amounts of marijuana. An average of 1,000 people are arrested each year in Atlanta for possession only. We needed to change that. I believe our public safety resources are better directed to stopping and preventing violent crime.”

Georgia: Atlanta Considers Eliminating Jail Time For Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

If the Atlanta City Council passes a bill under consideration, people caught with marijuana in Atlanta may not have to do jail time and pay a $1,000 fine.

The Atlanta City Council will consider legislation at April's meeting to lower fines for marijuana possession to $75 and eliminate any jail time. Under current law, people caught possessing marijuana face a fine of up to $1,000 and can receive up to six months in jail.

Advocates are pushing for the change, saying the move is necessary to address racial disparities in arrests for marijuana use.

92 percent of those arrested in Atlanta between 2014 and 2016 for possession were African American and 85 percent were male, according to the Racial Justice Action Center. An American Civil Liberties Union analysis of marijuana arrests between 2001 and 2010 found blacks were 3.73 times more likely to be arrested nationally for possession of the drug than whites.

City Councilman Michael Julian Bond said he was conflicted because he doesn’t want to encourage drug use, but agreed that the penalties outweighed the violation. But he suggested that $75 may be too low a fine and that jail time could be warranted in some circumstances.

“For me this is an extremely complicated subject,” said Bond, who said he has lost friends to drugs. “I believe as a policy body, we ought not to rush this.

Georgia: Two Pounds Of Marijuana Mailed To Atlanta High School

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A box of marijuana was shipped from a California school to a school in Atlanta, Georgia, police said.

The U.S. Postal Service delivered the package to the registrar's office at Carver High School in southeast Atlanta around lunchtime Monday.

Atlanta police Officer K. Barnes said in a narrative that a school employee had opened the package and found it contained two pounds and 10 ounces of marijuana.

There was a faint marijuana odor from inside the USPS box, but it "quickly became strong as I removed the two individually packaged bundles,” Barnes said in the narrative. It was double wrapped inside vacuum sealed shrink bags.

School officials were unable to find the recipient's name in the Atlanta Public Schools Database, and the address on the package was unclear, police reported.

Officers did find a tracking number for the package and found it had traveled through Merced and West Sacramento, Calif., and Opa-locka, Pompano Beach and Tampa, Fla. before being delivered to Carter High’s registrar’s office at 11:44 a.m. Monday.

The marijuana was given to the Atlanta Police Department’s narcotics unit.

Georgia: Parents Plan To Publicly Break Law To Get Medical Marijuana For Kids

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

With a quick prayer, a group of Georgia parents are preparing to very publicly break the marijuana laws. The room full of parents who have kids they believe can benefit from cannabis oil agreed that they will not be defeated by the recent gutting of the state's medical marijuana legislation.

"The governor has asked us to break federal law; the governor has asked us to break another state's law," parent Vince Seivert said, reports Christopher S. Hopper at WXIA.

Some saw House Bill 722 as the logical successor after House Bill 1 passed last year, allowing Georgia parents to use and possess non-psychoactive CBD oil, derived from cannabis. Parents and patients were hoping HB 722 would make it easier for them to obtain their medicine.

But on Wednesday, the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee approved a gutted version of HB 722 that stripped out in-state cultivation language. In the version of the bill passed by the committee on Wednesday, post-traumatic stress disorder was added back to the list of authorized illnesses that can be treated with cannabis oil.

HB 722 now goes back to the House Rules Committee, where it could be put on the calendar for a full House vote.

Some say the new version of the bill doesn't help enough.

Georgia: Medical Marijuana Won't Be Grown Anytime Soon

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana won't be grown in Georgia anytime soon, according to sources close to the situation.

Macon lawmaker Rep. Allen Peake, who has pushed medicinal cannabis legislation, stripped in-state cultivation out of House Bill 722 on Monday, reports Christopher S. Hopper at 11Alive News.

Other lawmakers, law enforcement officials, religious groups, and even Governor Nathan Deal had joined in an increasingly shrill chorus of voices warning against growing medical marijuana in Georgia. These excitable folks apparently believe that -- uniquely among all medical marijuana states, which are now about half the Union -- Georgia would somehow be selected for persecution and prosecution by the federal government if it dares do something really crazy like protecting sick folks.

HB 722 was widely viewed as the next step after House Bill 1 passed last year, allowing patients to lawfully use and possess non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) cannabis oil. Patients were counting on HB 722 to make it easier for them to obtain their medicine.

A gutted version of HB 722, with in-state cultivation language stripped away, was written up. The gutted version also takes away original language which would have given a greater number of patients access by expanding the allowed list of illnesses from eight 1o 17. PTSD and intractable pain were both removed from the list.

U.S.: Veterans To Gather For Cannabis PTSD Treatment Awareness

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The 2nd Annual Cannaball Run for Vets, supporting cannabis PTSD treatment, will begin on Oct. 17 in L.A.

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Did you know that 20 percent of America’s suicides are committed by Veterans? Did you know that more than 300,000 veterans are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Did you know veterans are typically prescribed a cocktail of six or more psychoactive medications to treat PTSD? Did you know that controlled, supervised use of cannabis has been proven 300 percent more effective at treating PTSD than the medications that are currently being prescribed?

More and more of our nation’s Veterans are opting for one simple plant that is safer and – most importantly – more effective than prescription drugs. Cannabis has become the new answer, and hopefully with your help, the new normal.

For this reason, world-renowned cannabis expert Garyn Angel and his company MagicalButter, alongside the Weed For Warriors Project, are presenting this year’s Cannaball Run for Vets. The 2nd Annual Cannaball Run for Vets for cannabis PTSD treatment, a cross-country education and awareness campaign, will begin on October 17 in Los Angeles, and stop at seven major cities as it heads towards the nation's capital, Washington, D.C., for the culminating Veteran's Day event on November 11.

U.S.: Nearly 1 In 3 Life Insurance Co.'s Classify Marijuana Users As Non-Smokers

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Nearly one-third (29 percent) of life insurance companies with an underwriting policy in place for marijuana users classify those individuals as non-smokers, according to a survey by Munich American Reassurance Company, a unit of Munich Re, one of the world's leading reinsurers.

Of the life insurance companies represented, one in five do not have an official underwriting policy in place for marijuana users. For those respondents whose company have not yet implemented a policy, 42 percent expect their respective employer to do so within 12-36 months. Further, 29 percent believe it will take less than 12 months to develop such a policy and 26 percent feel it will take more than 36 months.

"Despite a legalization movement across the country, scientific studies on the long term effects of marijuana use are mixed," said Bill Moore, vice president of Underwriting and Medical for Munich American Reassurance Company. "As a result, the life insurance industry is left with more questions than answers, making it crucial for companies to manage risk appropriately."

Among the nearly 150 underwriters surveyed, 36 percent believe marijuana users are non-smokers despite growing concerns around respiratory issues. In fact, nearly half (49 percent) of the underwriters polled believe there is no different in risk between underwriting a marijuana user who smokes cannabis and a user who ingests it.

Georgia: Governor Signs Low-THC Medical Marijuana Oil Bill Into Law

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal on Thursday signed legislation immediately legalizing the use of low-THC medical marijuana oil to treat eight serious medical conditions.

The new law, sponsored in the Georgia House by state Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), makes it legal to possess up to 20 ounces of "fluid cannabis oil." The catch is, that oil can contain no more than 5 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive component of cannabis and also one of its chief medicinal compounds. Scientific research has shown that all the cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant, including THC and CBD, work best when used together, a phenomenon known as the "Entourage Effect."

Georgia's new medical marijuana law, a slight improvement on the "CBD only" laws passed by lawmakers in other conservative states, makes it legal to use cannabis oil to treat patients with epilepsy and other seizure disorders; Lou Gehrig's disease; cancer; multiple sclerosis; Crohn's disease; mitochondrial disease; Parkinson's disease; and sickle cell anemia.

"For the families enduring separation and patients suffering pain, the wait is finally over," Gov. Deal said, his voice cracking. "Now, Georgia children and their families may return home, while continuing to receive much-needed care.

"Patients such as Haleigh Cox, for whom this bill is named, and others suffering from debilitating conditions can now receive the treatment they need, in the place where they belong -- Georgia," Deal said.

Georgia: Medical Marijuana Bill Signed By Governor

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a medical marijuana bill into law on Friday in a ceremony on the Capitol steps.

The bill cleared its final legislative hurdle on Thursday when the Georgia House voted 160-1 to approve a Senate compromise that only slightly tweaked the original House version by state Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), reports Bill Hendrick at the Associated Press.

After an emotional debate which had lasted, all told, for two years, House Speaker David Ralston hugged Janea Cox, 33, mother of 5-year-old Haleigh Cox, who has intractable epilepsy and is one of the half-a-million Georgians Peake said should benefit from the new law.

"Some days make it all worthwhile," Ralston said.

Peake's bill had already passed the House by a huge margin. It originally called for people with nine medical conditions to be eligible for treatment with cannabis oil that has only minimal amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which producers marijuana's characterisic "high."

Georgia: Senate Passes Medical Marijuana 'Study' Bill

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Georgia Senate on Friday passed a medical marijuana bill that would establish a five-year study involving minors under 18 with seizure disorders.

The bill, by Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta), was approved on a 54-1 vote after a debate lasting more than an hour, reports the Associated Press.

Senate Health and Human Services committee chairwoman Renee Unterman (R-Buford) said she plans to work with Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) to add additional medical conditions listed in a House bill to the Senate's version of the legislation.

House members overwhelmingly approved Peake's bill in that chamber. That proposal would legalize cannabis oil for people with seizure disorders, cancer and seven other conditions.

Sen. Unterman praised the House bill and said a hearing will be held by March 19 to attempt merging the two bills into a combined measure.

Graphic: Herald Tribune

Georgia: Senate Panel OKs Bill To Legalize Marijuana-Derived CBD Oil

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Georgia Senate committee this week unanimously approved a newly revised bill which would legalize the marijuana derivative CBD oil for treatment of patients with seizure disorders, cancer, and glaucoma.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee amended House Bill 885 to make it easier for state residents to gain access to cannabidiol oil, a non-psychoactive derivative of cannabis, reports Charles Craig at Online Athens.

The change would grant immunity from prosecution in Georgia for possession of CBD oil legally obtained in another state that permits the use of medical marijuana.

HB 885 was originally introduced by Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), who championed the bill to help children suffering from severe seizure disorders. CBD has proven effective in quelling the severity, frequency and duration of seizures, according to parents and doctors.

Under the revised Senate committee version of HB 885, patients with seizure disorders, cancer or glaucoma could use CBD oil as soon as they were able to obtain it from outside the state. Patients could also take the oil directly without supervision by a Georgia physician or an academic medical center under the revised version of the bill.

Georgia: Medical Marijuana Bill In Trouble - No Local Supply

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The problem with lawmakers writing the rules for medical marijuana is that they are just learning about it, themselves. That issue was highlighted in Georgia this week when House Bill 885, which had been doing great in the conservative Legislature, ran into a potentially fatal roadblock.

The bill's author, state Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), admitted that just over a month ago, he knew "next to nothing" about medical marijuana, reports Paul Crawley at 11Alive News. But when Peake met families of several young children with life-threatening seizures which might be helped be cannabis oil, he wrote his bill, which has now run into a snag.

"They cannot import it from Colorado or any of the other 20 states that have legal (medical) marijuana and without (a) local supply, the bill's dead," said activist James Bell of the Georgia C.A.R.E. Project. Bell pointed out that federal law prohibits Georgia from bringing cannabis across state lines, and state law won't allow it to be grown there.

"These people are going to the black market in order to get medicine, the cannabis medicine, so they're creating criminals out of people that should not be criminal," Bell said.

Georgia: Family Fights For Medical Marijuana Law For 4-Year-Old Daughter

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Georgia family is fighting for access to a type of oil derived from marijuana to help their four-year-old daughter treat a disorder that causes up to 100 seizures a day.

Brian and Janea Cox want their daughter Haleigh to try a compound made from "a special kind of marijuana that's high in CBD (cannabidiol) that helps the brain, and low in THC," (tetrahydrocannabinol), the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, reports Maggie Lee at The Telegraph.

Janea Cox said her daughter is on benzodiazepines and opiates that make her sleep 18 hours a day, but can't get the cannabis oil that could help her the most, reports Lori Geary at WSB-TV. Children in Colorado with similar disorders have seen amazing results after being treated with cannabis oil, which is legal there, she said.

"It's good to see people are opening their eyes," Janea said. "Hundreds of kids die every day because of seizures. I don't want her to be one of those kids. So, I'm going to constantly fight."

Back in 1980, the Georgia Legislature created the Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Program, setting up a process for doctors to investigate the effects of marijuana on patients with glaucoma and other conditions. But that program was unworkable as written; it never attracted any researchers or patients.

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