The Georgia House of Representatives is set to vote Wednesday on a bill that would legalize marijuana for recreational use in the state, though not yet for medical purposes.
The bill, H.R. 659, is expected to pass easily with bipartisan support.
It would allow the state to sell recreational marijuana to adults over 21 years old, and also allow for medical use.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Joe Pitts, said the legislation would allow people who have received a diagnosis of a debilitating illness to access medical marijuana in the medical marijuana program.
The legislation would also allow people with certain diseases to access a wide range of medical marijuana products.
“It’s a good thing, and I think that the people in Georgia are going to want to do it, but I think we have to do this the right way,” said Pitts.
In a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Pitts said the bill is “a commonsense bill.”
He said the proposed bill is needed to help the state combat a pandemic and to create a safe and legal alternative to opioids and other pharmaceuticals that have been prescribed for debilitating illnesses.
“If you have a condition that’s really debilitating, like cancer, you don’t need to take a bunch of different pills to do that,” Pitts told reporters.
“There are medications that you can take right now that are very effective and can help with your condition,” he said.
“But for a lot of folks, they don’t have access to that.”
House Speaker Brian Bosma said the bills would help to prevent “this kind of a situation where somebody’s life is cut short because they can’t take their medication.”
“We are trying to do what’s right for the people of Georgia,” Bosma added.
The Georgia Medical Marijuana Act would also create a special program for veterans and those with certain medical conditions.
The legislation would create an Office of Veterans and Medical Marijuana, which would oversee the process of acquiring, maintaining and distributing marijuana.
The Senate is expected vote on the legislation as early as Wednesday afternoon.