Medical marijuana: Sen. Hufstetler's response

A column posted on the editorial page claimed to know that I was against medical marijuana and that my opponent in the race was for it. Such a simplistic column needs a response.

He is correct that I voted against bills that were in the general session. The first bill would allow product to be used from places such as Colorado since no product was available in Georgia. Some studies had demonstrated that some children with a certain form of epilepsy were helped by a product of the marijuana plant, but the active ingredient in that study was the second most common ingredient found in marijuana, a substance called cannabidiol, not THC. One product that was recommended out of Colorado purported to have this substance and to be less than 0.3% of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. When the bill arrived in the Senate I noticed that the 0.3 percent low THC had been changed to 3 percent. When I questioned the author of the bill he said it was a typo and we changed it back to 0.3 percent. He would later go back in conference and change it to 3 percent and then eventually it was raised to 5 percent. He called it low THC but the federal definition was 0.3 percent for low THC.

When I asked again why we were now up to 5 percent THC I was told that a couple of people that had visited Colorado had reported to be helped by the higher THC. No studies, just anecdotal evidence. In addition, a product was already available in Georgia at the Medical College of Georgia. It is named epidiolex and is produced by GW Pharmaceuticals, a British company, and contains low THC but a high level of cannabidiol.

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