The real ‘reefer madness’ is unpassed bill

In 1936, a film called “Reefer Madness” was released – showing the horrors of the scourge of marijuana use.

The film has become a cult classic with its dark, overblown story of horror resulting when teens smoke marijuana cigarettes. While we are not promoting smoking pot, we do acknowledge we know a lot more about marijuana today than we did in 1936. For some people with pain-inducing medical conditions, marijuana can help.

The problem is marijuana – even for medical purposes – is still illegal. Families like Coweta County’s own Flannerys would like to see medical marijuana legal. They want relief for their 4-year old son, Reid, who has Dravet Syndrome and suffers from multiple grand mal seizures every day.

State Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, introduced a bill into the Georgia legislature earlier this year that would have legalized a non-psychoactive strain of marijuana strictly for people suffering from severe seizure disorders. The bill got caught in a mire of amendments and failed.

There already were some issues with the bill because no legal source of medical marijuana is currently available to the state, and it is against federal law to import medical marijuana from other states. Georgia law also prohibits the cultivation of marijuana for any purpose.

James Bell of the Georgia CARE Project, an organization fighting for marijuana reform, cites research and evidence from the 20 states that have legalized medical marijuana to reject the idea that there is not sufficient evidence to support marijuana in a medicinal setting.

Georgia families who have someone who can benefit from marijuana-based oils and other medical uses are doing what families have to do – they are taking care of their own. In some cases, mother and child are now in another state where they can get the needed medication, while the father stays behind in Georgia for work.

Surely we can do better than dividing families who are already struggling with devastating diagnoses and excruciating pain.

Gov. Nathan Deal is exploring the possibility of using administrative action to allow families to use a form of cannabis oil to treat seizures. “All of us were moved by the families and the children that were involved with the medical marijuana bill, and I certainly think that all of us want to try to figure out if there’s something we can do to provide them with the kind of assistance they need,” he said in Athens a few days ago.

“I will be talking with all of our state agencies who have any kind of involvement in dealing with that issue to see if there is something we can do to make this treatment possible, assuming that the proper foundation of law enforcement security and medical protections are attached,” Deal added.

Kudos to the governor for taking a second look at this issue. It’s a shame he has to find a circuitous way to do what the legislature failed to accomplish.

It’s not 1936. For families like the Flannerys, it’s time for the madness to stop.



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