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‘We’re still waiting’: Ga. families frustrated by tabled medical marijuana bill

After multiple bills were introduced this session - some calling for more licenses, some calling for more transparency - lawmakers were unable to come to a solution
Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 4:55 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - At the end of Georgia’s legislative session, lawmakers came up one vote short on a cannabis bill. That means Georgia’s medical marijuana program remains at a standstill.

This comes after both the senate and the house approved two separate bills to jumpstart the stalled program, earlier in the legislative session.

Patients are frustrated. More than 20,000 of them have their Georgia medical marijuana cards but no way to legally buy the oil they’ve been allowed to possess in our state, for the last seven years.

Smyrna mom, Shannon Cloud, still remembers that day in April, 2015 vividly – when former Governor Nathan Deal signed a bill legalizing low-THC cannabis oil for patients with chronic illnesses.

Smyrna mom, Shannon Cloud, still remembers that day in April, 2015 vividly – when former...
Smyrna mom, Shannon Cloud, still remembers that day in April, 2015 vividly – when former governor Nathan Deal signed a bill legalizing low-THC cannabis oil for patients with chronic illnesses.(Shannon Cloud)

“We were promised access and here we are seven years later and we’re still waiting,” Cloud said.

That’s when she realized she’s been fighting for access to medical marijuana for almost half of her 16-year-old daughter’s life. Alaina has Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy and she finds relief from cannabis oil. But, they have no way to legally buy the oil in Georgia because of the state’s slow roll out.

“We never thought she’d be almost an adult before we would get to the point to actually get the oil. It’s crazy,” Cloud added.

As CBS46 Investigates has previously reported, a seven-member commission was chosen in 2019 to license cannabis producers. In 2021, they announced six winners from a pool of nearly 70.

Almost immediately after, there was backlash from losing bidders - over the selection process and a lack of transparency - which included protests and lawsuits that have kept the program from getting off the ground.

“We’ve lost so many patients in that time. Would cannabis have saved their lives? In most cases, maybe not, but they would have had a better quality of life while they were here,” Cloud said.

Shannon and Alaina Cloud at the Capitol
Shannon and Alaina Cloud at the Capitol(Shannon Cloud)

After multiple bills were introduced this session - some calling for more licenses, some calling for more transparency - lawmakers were unable to come to a solution.

The Senate tabled the latest bill with a vote 28-27, shortly before the end of this year’s legislative session.

Without a new law, the state-appointed commission will continue hearing protests from losing bidders – and they’ll try to move forward with awarding licenses – though its likely there could be more lawsuits and more delays.

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