As state lawmakers consider a medical marijuana bill in Georgia, the measure is getting support from an unexpected source: a conservative Republican state representative.
During a radio interview on the Bryan Crabtree Show late last week, State Rep. David Clark (R) discussed HB 722, a proposal that would expand Georgia’s medical marijuana regime.
Clark, a self-described “Constitutional Conservative!!!!” gave a surprising and impassioned defense of medical marijuana.
“I do think it’s going to pass this session, and I think it should because pharmaceutical companies, those drugs and all that, have killed tens of thousands of people — overdoses and all that — every single year and we’ve never had an overdose on marijuana,” Clark said. “So I think it’s the right thing to do.”
The Georgia Republican went on that medical marijuana held real promise for his fellow veterans, arguing that he has seen no research showing it has similar side effects to pharmaceutical drugs. “I think we need to discuss it more and educate people,” Clark concluded.
Listen to it (relevant portion starts at 14:05):
Though medical marijuana is permitted in Georgia, it is currently illegal to cultivate the plant in-state. As a result, patients are forced to obtain medical marijuana from other states, an expensive, legally-questionable, and potentially difficult trip for many.
HB 722 would change that, allowing for six cultivators of medical cannabis in the Peach State. The bill would also expand the list of conditions eligible to be treated with medical marijuana, including post-traumatic stress disorder, persistent pain, and HIV/AIDS.
A recent poll of likely Georgia voters found that more than 80% support HB 722’s aims of cultivating medical marijuana in the state and expanding the list of eligible illnesses.
As Clark noted, expanding the availability of medical marijuana for veterans is an important issue. In November, the U.S. Senate passed a bill allowing VA doctors to prescribe medical marijuana in states where it’s legal. GOP presidential candidates, from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, have been questioned by voters on their opposition to medical marijuana for veterans.
With Republicans firmly in support of the state legislature, the support of lawmakers like Clark is critical to the bill’s passage.