Medical Marijuana In Georgia
By Gloria Tatum
"Yes We Cannabis" was the rallying cry of many individuals and organizations on the grounds of the State Capitol, Wednesday, April 20, 2011, in support of marijuana policy reform in the State of Georgia.
The group also celebrated the fact that Georgia has started to implement the Medical Marijuana Necessities Act of 1981 (MMNA 1981) that will establish procedures and a medical board for which patients can be prescribed legal medical marijuana in Georgia as part of clinical research trials.
The Georgia legislature passed the MMNA in 1981; however, after the political climate quickly shifted against marijuana under the President Ronald Reagan Administration, the trials were de-funded. Until now, the state has continued to fail to implement the law.
Over 50 people, representing diverse organizations, rallied at the event, including Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Coalition for the Abolition of Marijuana Prohibition (CAMP), Georgia Taxpayers Alliance, Student for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), Educators for Sensible Drug Policy (EFSDP), and Cannabis Culture magazine.
The goals of the Rally for Cannabis Reform were to raise public awareness and education about the current, failing marijuana policies, and to announce to the public the beginning of clinical cannabis research in Georgia.
The initial clinical trials and research into therapeutic application of medical marijuana are for treating glaucoma and the side effects of chemotherapy radiation in cancer patients.
According to a copy of the law obtained by Atlanta Progressive News, the Board shall act as a sponsor of statewide investigational studies, shall develop protocols and guidelines for such studies, and shall apply to the National Institute on Drug Abuse for receipt of marijuana.
While the statement of intent within the law is to develop research on the value of medicinal use of marijuana, the law does not explain how the findings of the study will be used or even considered.
This long overdue research is possible because the "Georgia law which allowed the Governor to appoint nominees to the Georgia Composite State Board of Medical Examiners (GCMB) was invalidated last year," Rt. Rev. Gregory K. Davis of the Universal Orthodox Diocese of Georgia explained. The Universal Orthodox Diocese believes that marijuana is from God, and that it is the Tree of Life.
"Now medical decisions and research has been taken out of the hands of the politicians and put in the hands of doctors where it belongs," Davis said.
"Only doctors and patients have a right to decide how their medical problems are treated and what medicine they are prescribed," Paul Corwell with CAMP said.
The GCMB is currently recruiting physicians from various specialties for this historic medical marijuana research project in Georgia.
According to a copy of the recruitment flyer obtained by APN, "The Georgia Composite Medical Board is recruiting physicians for the Patient Qualification Review Board (PQRB) who elect to participate to evaluate the response rates of oral THC, standardized smoking, and patient controlled smoking of anti-emetics in cancer patients who have failed to respond to conventional anti-emetics therapy."
"The PQRB is limited to clinical trials and research into therapeutic applications of marijuana only for use in treating glaucoma and in treating the side effects of chemotherapeutic agents and radiation and should not be construed as either encouraging or sanctioning the social use of marijuana. For additional information, see O.C.G.A. 43-34-121 Article 5, Use of Marijuana for Treatment of Cancer and Glaucoma," the recruitment flyer states.
The Board is recruiting members who are Board certified physicians of Ophthalmology Surgery, Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology, Psychiatry, Radiology, as well as licensed pharmacists.
The GCMB is housed under the Georgia Department of Community Health.
Cornwell was instrumental in getting the state medical board to reinstate the clinical trials.
“Anyone who has a grandmother or friend wasting away from cancer or AIDS because they can’t keep food down should favor compassionate relief,” Cornwell explains.
Tim Trout and Mat Thomas, both former Georgia Tech students, were the primary organizers of the rally. This was their first time organizing an event but will not be their last. The musical entertainment was provided by 3052 dub Collective.
Read more at Atlanta Progressive News