In a file photo, marijuana plants mature at a Denver dispensary on December 5, 2013. (Denver Post file)

Georgia moves forward on reducing penalty for small amounts of marijuana, expanding medical cannabis

ATLANTA — A Senate panel in the Georgia General Assembly has approved legislation that would reduce the punishment for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Monday to advance the bill sponsored by Sen. Harold Jones II, a Democrat from Augusta.

Under the legislation, possession of up to two ounces of marijuana would be punishable as a misdemeanor rather than a felony as is currently the case. The bill goes next to the Senate Rules Committee.

Also yesterday afternoon, a House committee has approved a bill greatly expanding the list of conditions that qualify for access to medical marijuana.

The House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee voted in favor of the proposal, which is sponsored by Rep. Allen Peake, a Macon Republican. It moves to the House Rules Committee for further consideration.

The bill would add AIDS, HIV, chronic pain, and autism to the list of qualifying conditions. It removes some residency restrictions.

Qualifying patients have been able to legally possess cannabis oil since 2015 and there are currently 1,300 patients enrolled in the program.

The Senate has separately approved a bill that only adds autism to the qualifying conditions and cuts the potency of THC from 5 to 3 percent.