March 31, 2017 Radio Commentary

Switcheroo, Agreed, Done!

Radio Commentary, 90.7, 91.7 New Life FM, March 31, 2017 – By Sue Ella Deadwyler

During the first two months of this session, five marijuana bills were introduced – four in the House and one in the Senate. It seemed strange that Senator Watson would introduce S.B. 16 to qualify one more condition for marijuana treatment and lower the THC level of medical marijuana from five- to three-percent, when five-percent passed last year. But, if he introduced S.B. 16 to meander through the process and become a vehicle for a more comprehensive bill that failed to pass by the end of Cross-Over Day, his strategy worked perfectly!

The Senate, dutifully, passed S.B. 16 on February 16th and it went to the House Judiciary Non Civil Committee, where it languished, awaiting the next step in the process. That committee stripped S.B. 16 of its original language and clothed it with Representative Peake’s much more comprehensive restructuring of current marijuana law.

During the switch, the House retained the expedient components of the original S.B. 16 – its all-important title (S.B. 16) and position (poised to pass), and autism, that was already among the six additional diseases Mr. Peake’s legislation was qualifying for marijuana treatment.

When the new law goes into effect July 1st, several requirements of current law will be repealed, as will the one-year Georgia residency now mandatory for marijuana treatment. Without that restriction, Georgia could become a hub for out-of-state drop-in buyers of medical marijuana.Also on July 1st, S.B. 16 repeals several important healthcare reports, including quarterly doctor’s reports of recommended dosages, another report on clinical treatment responses, and reports on compliance, side effects and drug interaction. Six additional diseases now qualify for treatment – Tourette’s syndrome, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, HIV, AIDS, and epidermolysis bullosa, a rare genetic skin disease referred to as, “The worst disease you’ve never heard of!”

Since Mr. Peake introduced H.R. 36 on January 23, 2017, the same day he introduced H.B. 65, he removed all doubt that his goal is to make in-state cultivation of marijuana a legal business.

These changes, also, affect another law that passed last year, allowing minors of any age who have HIV or AIDS to receive medical treatment that’s so confidential even parents won’t be notified of their child’s diagnosis or treatment. With the passage of this bill, minors of any age could be legally treated with medical marijuana for multiple conditions, including HIV and AIDS, and no one would be required to tell a parent, guardian, or any member of the family.

That law puts the child’s parents, peers, educators, and the community at unnecessary risk of life-threatening, incurable, infectious, communicable diseases. Such neglect fails to meet the physicians’ “Do no harm!” criteria and should be treated as malpractice for which medical providers should be held liable. For Georgia Insight I’m Sue Ella Deadwyler, your Capitol correspondent.