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Medical marijuana bill passes Georgia House

Georgia took a step toward allowing medical marijuana, with a bill passing the state House of Representatives Monday.

With only a handful of no votes, Georgia House Bill 885, titled “Haleigh’s Hope Act,” would open up the use of cannabis oil for the treatment of epileptic seizures, glaucoma and cancer.

The House passage came on the 30th legislative day, which is the last day it can pass one chamber and be considered in the other, allowing the proposal to remain alive in the 2014 legislative session. It now moves to the Senate for consideration.

“It’s a pretty historic day in Georgia,” said James Bell of Georgia CARE (Campaign for Access, Reform and Education). “It’s a starting point.”

Spurred by the testimony of parents whose children suffer seizures, the movement of the bill even surprised Bell, who said the limited proposal, which would open the use up to patients approved through a review board, could be expanded in the future.

“We’re really pleased with how far the discussion has gone,” said Bell, who added that the talks have revealed that several dozen legislators support a move toward decriminalizing marijuana use in future years.

Laws have been passed to allow recreational use of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, and medical uses are supported in at least 20 states.