A bottle of cannabis-infused oil used to treat a child with severe epilepsy. (Brennan Linsley, Associated Press file)

Georgia Senate’s MMJ bill for 5-year epilepsy study now faces compromise

ATLANTA — The Georgia Senate passed a medical marijuana bill that sets up a five-year scientific study involving only people under 21 with seizure disorders, while a key senator promised to meld it with a broader House bill.

The bill by Republican Sen. Lindsey Tippins of Marietta was approved in a 54-1 vote Friday after a debate that lasted more than an hour. Tippins said he wants more evidence that the remedy is effective.

“I want to protect our children,” he said. “We must gather a conclusive body of evidence.”

Republican Senate Health and Human Services committee chairwoman Renee Unterman of Buford says she’s planning to work with Republican Rep. Allen Peake of Macon to add medical issues listed in a House bill to the Senate’s version.

House members overwhelmingly passed Peake’s bill. That proposal would legalize cannabis oil for people with seizure disorders, cancer and seven other medical diagnoses.

Unterman praised the House bill and says a hearing will be held March 19 to try merging the bills into a combined measure.