Opinion

February 2, 2014

Medical marijuana: good idea, bad execution

More than 30 years ago, Georgia lawmakers legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes for those with glaucoma and cancer. But the board created to oversee that program has been inactive for some two decades and no patients have taken part in the program for even longer.

What happened?

Simply put, the program was too restrictive, too regulated and too poorly thought out. That is, if its purpose was actually to deliver relief to patients.

The program counted on getting access to medical marijuana from the federal government, which never delivered. The program set up all sorts of hurdles and tests for patients to qualify for treatment, rather than just allowing their physicians to determine whether marijuana might help them and prescribe it if they thought best.

Now, the General Assembly is considering reviving that program and expanding it. A bill by Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, would add severe seizures to the list of conditions allowed in the program and permit them to be treated with cannabis oil.

The bill suffers from all the problems of Georgia’s existing medical marijuana program, including uncertainty about where the state will get the cannabis oil from.

Peake says it can get it from suppliers in states such as Colorado, which has legalized marijuana for recreational as well as medicinal purposes. But transferring cannabis oil across state lines remains a federal crime. Will suppliers in states where marijuana is legal risk federal prosecution?

Peake’s bill is also overly bureaucratic, allowing the cannabis oil to only be prescribed and distributed at the state’s medical colleges. The vast majority of doctors would remain unable to legally prescribe marijuana.

We expect that if Peake’s bill passes, it will be no more effective at relieving the suffering of the patients it purports to help than the state’s existing medical marijuana program.

Georgia lawmakers may truly want to help those suffering from severe seizures, but that is outweighed by their fear that someone somewhere might smoke a joint.

Certainly, some states have enacted medical marijuana laws so broad that they have effectively legalized all marijuana use. Georgia lawmakers want to avoid that.

But if other states’ medical marijuana laws basically legalized the drug, that’s what the authors of those laws probably intended. If Georgia has thoughtful, intelligent lawmakers, they should be able to craft a law that really can allow all patients who need medical marijuana to obtain it but doesn’t allow too much abuse of that privilege.

Surely, lawmakers can find some middle ground between a medical marijuana program so narrow that it is doomed to failure and one so broad that it invites widespread abuse.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Tax holiday weekend is perfect time to shop

    August means children across the state are headed back to school, and for parents that means it’s time to buy new shoes and clothes for children who have outgrown their old ones. It means it’s time to buy new school supplies, and it may even mean it’s time to get a child a new computer to do their school work.

    July 30, 2014

  • "We’ve had a great ride"

    For 60 years, the Green Spot has been a part of Dalton. It survived long after most other locally owned grocery stores in the area had folded to competition from big chain grocery stores and to big box super stores.

    July 29, 2014

  • Charles Oliver: Traveler from a district in Columbia?

    Jim Gray was traveling out of Orlando International Airport when a Transportation Security Administration officer tried to stop him from boarding his plane.

    July 29, 2014

  • Letter: Children are not the enemy

    We recently read somewhere that our country is at war, not with another nation but with one another.

    July 29, 2014

  • Ensuring the joy of reading

    They’re little, they’re libraries, and best of all, they’re free.

    July 28, 2014

  • Move carefully, but soon

    No one intended for it to happen. No one had any bad motives.
    But during a period of 40 years or more, quite a few people didn’t do enough planning, didn’t have enough foresight to see what all of the development in Dalton would do.

    July 27, 2014

  • Local school systems must bear costs of federal immigration failure

    No word. No warning. Little help.
    That’s what Dalton Public Schools officials received from the federal government when it dropped 30 Central American students into local classrooms last school year.

    July 26, 2014

  • Sacrifices worth honoring

    Members of the Dalton City Council were recently approached by representatives of the local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart with a request to declare Dalton a Purple Heart City. Council members indicated they will approve the request.

    July 24, 2014

  • We must do better

    The numbers tell a sad tale.
    Registered voters: 36,843.
    Cards cast: 5,307.
    That means the turnout for Tuesday’s runoffs in Whitfield County was a measly 14.4 percent, according to unofficial results from the Whitfield County elections office.

    July 23, 2014

  • Letter: Control immigration

    Thousands are starting to pour into our country, and things are getting personal. Why would we end up the bad guys if we turn away children who aren’t ours? How does it make us better people to let one man steal from our children and stand by and do nothing?

    July 23, 2014