While the state’s LGBT community has been trying to avoid taking steps backward with anti-LGBT bills like HB 757, there is a sliver of good news to report from the Gold Dome. A bill that would expand the list of medical conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana includes HIV/AIDS, and it’s one step closer to passage.

House Bill 722 is the brainchild of state Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), who has been a medical marijuana champion these last two legislative sessions. Pressure from Gov. Nathan Deal and law enforcement groups forced HIV/AIDS and other conditions to be stripped from last year’s bill, so Peake introduced HB 722 this year both to expand the list of medical conditions and to create a state-sponsored program to grow and manufacture medical marijuana in-state.

That second factor was key since, while low-dose cannabis oil is legal in Georgia for those with the approved conditions, they have to travel out of state to get it, putting them in fear of prosecution in other states. However, law enforcement groups stepped in again this year and killed that portion of the bill.

The House passed the watered-down version of the bill on Feb. 29, which in addition to adding HIV/AIDS to the approved medical conditions would include post-traumatic stress disorder, epidermolysis bullosa, Tourette’s syndrome and more.

 “I have fought hard, and will continue to fight hard for inclusion of HIV/AIDS on the qualified condition list,” Rep. Peake tells Georgia Voice. “Having a gay brother in Atlanta, I am well aware of the health challenges of the gay community, and will continue to fight for this condition to be included in the medical cannabis law.”

Peake also referenced his brother, corporate recruiter Merwin Peake, in an email to Gov. Nathan Deal and House Speaker David Ralston when proposing an alternative to HB 757, the anti-LGBT legislation that’s roiled the state and now sits in the House.

HB 722 is now under consideration in the Senate.

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