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Bill would allow medical marijuana for autism
Legislative report
Ben Watson
Sen. Ben Watson represents Bryan County in the Georgia Senate. - photo by File photo

Serving as a state senator is rewarding because I am engaged in the intricate legislative process that often affects and improves the lives of people in our community. When we reconvened this week, we addressed legislation that I believe would be good for individuals in our district.

Two years ago a bill was passed to allow the regulation of low THC oil, extracted from the cannabis plant, for the treatment of cancer, sickle cell disease, Crohn’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, multiple sclerosis, mitochondrial disease, Parkinson’s and seizure disorders. This week I sponsored an amendment that will allow low THC to be used by those with autism spectrum disorder. According to the Autism Society of Georgia, ASD is more common than childhood cancer, cystic fibrosis, and multiple sclerosis combined. It is also estimated that 155,000 people in Georgia live with autism. Because low THC oil has proven to have health benefits for certain diseases and is not addictive, I wholeheartedly support the passing of this amendment. I will keep you updated as this legislation moves forward.

A bill was passed that I believe will help the success of small businesses. SB 85 would allow breweries to sell beverages on and off premises for consumption as long as alcohol sales are permitted by the county or municipality. The craft beer industry has grown in our community and these small business owners add to the economic vitality of our community. The bill was passed overwhelmingly and now goes to the House for a vote.

Resolution 119 was passed recognizing Jan. 31 as Skin Cancer Awareness Day at the capitol. Skin cancers are some of the most preventable forms of cancer but are also the most fatal. In fact, skin cancer is 50 percent more prevalent than all cancers combined including breast, lung, and prostate cancer. Because of our mild climate, most of us are exposed to the sun year-round. As a family physician, I encourage preventative measures such as wearing sunscreen as part of your daily routine even if your only activity is driving and walking in and out of buildings, wearing hats during sports activities and having your skin checked by a dermatologist.

In the Senate chamber, legislators recognized the Georgia Association of Broadcasters for alerting Georgians about Hurricane Matthew and communicating about the evacuation. This effective communication about possible dangers, road closures, and evacuation routes undoubtedly saved lives from this powerful storm.

A resolution was passed changing Crossover Day from the 30th to the 28th day of the session. This is the final day for a bill to move from one chamber to the other if it is to become law. The resolution also states that Sine Die, the day we adjourn, will be on March 30.

There will be much more legislation to consider as the session continues and I’ll keep you informed about the bills that would affect our district. As always, your input is important to me and I encourage you to contact me with your concerns and questions. I can be reached at or at 404-656-7880. Thank you for placing your trust in me and allowing me to serve you!

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