Medical marijuana- Policy Analysis Case Study

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Medical marijuana- Policy Analysis Case Study

Public Policy

Week 4 Policy Analysis Case Study

Policy Analysis Case Study (the Week 4 assignment).

Since 1996, twenty-three states have legalized different forms of marijuana for medical use as a treatment for a variety of physical ailments ranging from the alleviation of pain and nausea from cancer and its unpleasant treatments to the lessening and even prevention of seizures in patients with seizure disorders. Through a process of policy analysis and statewide public hearings regarding the pros and cons of the legalization of medical marijuana (otherwise known as cannabis oil), the State of Georgia has legalized the use of cannabis oil for the treatment of eight different conditions or symptoms of diseases that are otherwise untreatable without the controversial substance.

Policy Analysis Medical Marijuana
Marijuana is a remarkably safe drug (Gieringer., Rosenthal., & Carter, 2008, p.1). The medical use of marijuana has been subject to a long, contentious policy debate since the mid-1970s, when Robert Randall became the first person to succeed in defending himself against marijuana charges using a medical necessity defense (Vinciguerra et al., 1988, pp. 525-527). Allen Peake, Georgia state representative from Macon, saw a need when he heard appeals from hundreds of Georgians who were in favor of the legalization of the oil in order to remain in the state as opposed to splitting their families up in order to move to a state that would allow the use of the oil for treatment of a family member`s debilitating condition. As he saw Georgians being forced to sell their homes and split up families in order to obtain the substance legally, he decided to sponsor this year`s bill in a broader form than what was actually approved in April. Even so, the citizens whose loved ones suffer from debilitating conditions that are eased by the use of cannabis oil count this approval as a political victory but also a very personal one in which the "system" worked in the people`s favor.
Georgia became the twenty-fourth state to enact a medical marijuana law (Russo, 2015). On April 16, 2015, Governor Nathan Deal signed legislation that immediately legalizes the use of a low-potency form of cannabis oil for medicinal uses (Russo, 2015). The law allows cannabis oil to be used to treat eight disorders: cancer, Crohn`s disease, Lou Gehrig`s disease, mitochondrial disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson`s disease, seizure disorders, and sickle cell disease (Bluestein, 2015). An estimated 500,000 patients in the state will benefit from the legalization of medical marijuana (Ranosa, 2015). The legal use of the medical marijuana will help Georgia`s citizens to get treatment without traveling to other states for medical marijuana issue. The law does not deal with the cultivation, manufacturing, and sale of medical marijuana in Georgia (Leslie, 2015, April 16).
On March 27, Governor Nathan Deal issued an executive order to state agencies to begin preparations for the enactment of the state`s medical marijuana bill so that he could sign the bill into law as soon as the 2015 legislative session ended on April 2 to "avoid possible procedural conflicts with other pieces of legislation" (Hendrick, 2015). Governor Deal signed the bill into law on April 16, 2015 after several years of debate (Jackson, 2015). Per Governor Deal, state agencies will be monitored to ensure that they are following the guidelines closely. Patients and their caregivers will be issued authorization cards from the state and must provide proper documentation from physicians before being issued cards to obtain and possess cannabis oil (Ranosa, 2015).
The debate over the medicinal properties of cannabis oil began in 1996 when 23 states and the District of Columbia legalized the use of "smokeable marijuana" for a few medical conditions. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia have also approved marijuana use, growing, and possession for people over the age of 21 while disallowing the sale and distribution of marijuana (whitehouse.gov, 2015). In the past decades many states have approved the use of cannabis oil for a variety of illnesses and conditions, despite the fact that the federal government still prohibits its usage (Ranosa, 2015). The United States Justice Department will not hinder states as long as the substance is well regulated. The Atlanta arm of the Drug Enforcement Administration`s position is that marijuana is still an illegal substance under federal law but that its agents will abide by the state`s guidelines (Ranosa, 2015). Counties and cities may also regulate the use of cannabis oil independently as well (whitehouse.gov, 2015).
Peake, a Georgia Representative from Macon who chairs the joint legislative committee, "studied whether and how to legalize the drug for certain conditions, including seizures in children" (Hendrick, 2015). In January 2014, Representative Peake visited with Haleigh Cox, a 4-year-old girl with severe seizure disorder (Georgia Regents University, 2015). Representative Peake said, "I am an unlikely champion for this cause.... But I had a visit with Haleigh Cox, the daughter of a constituent of mine. The result of seeing the pain and suffering she goes through, having 100 seizures a day, and seeing a potential remedy through cannabidiol treatment, I was compelled to move to action" (Georgia Regents University, 2015).
Peake is the sponsor of Haleigh`s Hope Act (House Bill 1) and proposed the bill allowing the use of cannabis oil for medicinal purposes in Georgia in 2014 (Breitbart News Network, 2015, April 16). Haleigh Cox, a Georgia five-year-old with intractable epilepsy, is the "face" of the law and the inspiration for the long-awaited legislation (Breitbart News Network, 2015, April 16). There are "scarce" research studies that prove the benefits of the use of cannabis oil, giving it a Schedule I classification (Hunt, 2014, December 09). However, anecdotal comments from parents of children with seizure disorders and patients with other conditions indicate that cannabis oil does in fact ease the symptoms of these debilitating conditions (Hunt, 2014).
Cannabis oil contains a low-potency form of THC, the chemical that induces "highs". Since the THC content in the oil is less than five percent, users insist that patients exhibit no signs of being "high" when given the oil (Russo, 2015). Smoking marijuana in Georgia is not addressed in Haleigh`s Hope Act. (Russo, 2015). The key difference in the oil and "smokeable" marijuana is the oil (cannabidiol) is low in THC where the marijuana leaves themselves are not. THC brings it and CBD into the brain and CBD`s "antioxidant properties are thought to protect the brain" leading medical professionals, parents, caregivers and patients themselves to testify to the oil`s efficacy. "Confusion about the oil form versus a smokeable drug has prompted Peake, who said he does not support expanded use, to speak out." In late 2014 and early 2015, hearings were held around the state to allow the public to speak out in support of or against the legalization of cannabis oil in the state (Hunt, 2014). Peake included seventeen medical conditions (including Tourette`s syndrome, glaucoma and autism) in his original bill in 2014 but was forced to reduce the number of conditions to the current eight because he believed the original form of the bill had no chance of passing the House or the Senate. He also believed that Governor Deal would not sign a bill that allowed the cultivation of marijuana to manufacture the oil. Additionally, the original bill included cannabis oil in liquid, pill, or injectable form. Politics forced Peake to revise his bill in order to get any of the legislation passed, even though 57% of Georgia voters surveyed support the passage of such legislation (Strasser, 2014). The University System of Georgia is charged with developing THC oil in a clinical research project that meets FDA trial compliance regulations (Throckmorton,).
Moreover, research data prompted the federal Department of Health and Human Services to earn a patent on medical marijuana in 2003. London-based drug company, GW Pharmaceuticals, created a highly purified CBD that potentially reduces seizures and is waiting on FDA approval. There are neither research studies nor reports from parents that patients "get high" from cannabis oil usage. Even the National Institute on Drug Abuse acknowledges that the federal government does not recognize marijuana`s medical properties, but CBD is a "substance that may prove useful in treating epilepsy as well as some inflammation disorders and mental illnesses" (Hunt, 2014, December 9).
While smoking marijuana is still illegal in Georgia, the act stated that the Department of Public Health must establish rules and regulations for the organization and operation of a patient registration process and database for the disbursement of authorization cards to individuals and their caregivers. Additionally, the law created the Georgia Commission on Medical Cannabis, whose members must issue comprehensive suggestions "regarding the potential regulation of medical cannabis in the state" (Georgia Enacts Medical Marijuana Law, 2015).
Unlike other states, the act falls short of protecting users from employment discrimination and does provide more protection for employers of medical cannabis users: "Nothing in this article shall require an employer to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale or growing of marijuana in any form, or to affect the ability of an employer to have a written zero tolerance policy prohibiting the on-duty, and off-duty, use of marijuana, or prohibiting any employee from having a detectable amount of marijuana in such employee`s system while at work" (Deitchler, 2015). Georgia`s law "specifically allows employers to refuse to `accommodate` an employee`s use of medical cannabis oil. It also allows employers to take adverse action against both on-duty and off-duty users of medical cannabis under a drug policy" (Thomas, 2015). Since federal law prohibits the use of cannabis oil and marijuana regardless of its purported function, the Americans with Disabilities Act does not protect current users of illegal drugs (Garvey, 2012).
Representative Peake`s bill was just one more in a series of pieces of legislation that fall prey to partisan politics and corruption in the state of Georgia. There are many voices to be heard in this debate, and many of which do not have the 500,000 Georgia patients` best interests at heart (Hendrick, 2015). For example, the law limits the use of the oil for those who suffer from uncontrolled seizures to those patients under the age of 18. That limitation renders the law useless for adults with seizure disorders as if the oil will suddenly make patients "high" after their 18th birthdays. Furthermore, there are rumors that the governor is getting "kickbacks" from pharmaceutical companies who want to manufacture in the state of Georgia but are not prepared to do so at this time. The companies purportedly are "paying him off" to stall the manufacturing provision until such time as they are ready for operation. Given the governor`s four ethics investigations and highly suspect stint in Washington, D. C. where he was investigated as well, voters in Georgia are suspicious of his motives even as he signed a limited bill into law.
Representative Peake organized highly publicized public hearings to bring attention to the law and to try to garner support for the legislation by including medical professionals, parents of children who would benefit from the oil`s legalization, and patients themselves. Many families moved to Colorado in order to access the oil legally, causing families to sell their homes, change jobs, and even split up, as well as extreme financial hardship on families that already had astronomical medical bills. Like others, families the Coxes can rest more comfortably living in Georgia now that their five-year-old daughter can get the marijuana extract she needs (Sennet, 2015, April 16). "This means the world to us," said Haleigh Cox`s mother, Janea Cox (Sennet, 2015, April 16). In March 2014 Janea Cox made an interview where she mentioned that: she made the difficult decision to move her daughter to Colorado, where medical marijuana is legal, in hopes of saving her life (Sennet, 2015, April 16). "She was maxed out," Cox said. "She`d quit breathing several times a day, and the doctors blamed it on the seizure medications" (Sennet, 2015, April 16).
After the passage of Haleigh`s Hope Act, families were able to be reunited and to rebuild their lives in Georgia. Governor Deal and other legislators were forced to take a stand on medical marijuana in the face of mounting public pressure to do so. Politicians in Georgia tend to make decisions that cause the least amount of controversy in order not to offend anyone so that they can be re-elected for eons. Public outrage caused these people to make a decision. Politically, it is not wise to deny patients "particularly children" and their families` access to a substance that can potentially do so much to improve their quality of life and has very few "if any" negative side effects.
Initially, there was a great deal of misunderstanding about the technicalities of the legislation. For example, citizens seemed to think that everyone would be allowed access to "pot" for smoking. Peake undertook a statewide education program about what the law actually entailed, and the public hearings and media coverage succeeded in educating many people about the benefits as well as the specifics of how the oil would be managed. Voters were also concerned about the "slippery slope" of legalizing marijuana for everyone. Many of them seemed to believe that this law was just the first step toward legalized marijuana for smoking. However, in the statewide hearings over a period of months, citizens learned more about the benefits and relatively few side effects of the oil, and controversy subsided.
While Georgia`s law is limited in its scope, the bill`s journey to become a law indicates that citizens who speak out in favor of legislation for the benefit of patients of all ages do produce results. The debate will continue in other states as legislators work to improve the lives of citizens with serious medical conditions through the use of a controversial substance. In Georgia, the governor and the General Assembly will revisit the topic of cannabis oil in the 2016 session in order to make improvements and revisions to the law after the initial implementation of a hotly debated law (Ranosa, 2015).
As Kraft and Furlong`s book, Public Policy: Politics, Analysis and Alternatives states, "policy analysis is... used throughout the policymaking process, starting with defining the nature of the problem right through implementing and evaluating policies within administrative agencies" (Kraft & Furlong, 2014, p. 3535). In the case of Georgia`s medical marijuana legislation, the process began in 1996 when the substance was legalized in 23 states on a very limited basis to relieve symptoms related to chemotherapy for cancer patients. Last year in Georgia, the process of defining the problem began with Allen Peake`s initial bill that resulted from the appeals of parents of children/patients with seizure disorders and other very serious illnesses and conditions that would be improved with cannabis oil therapy.
Per Kraft and Furlong, policy analysis refers to the parts of the "policymaking process, such as a policy formulation and implementation, or studying substantive public policy issues..." (Kraft & Furlong, 2014, p. 3535). Furthermore, policy analysis includes "collecting and interpreting information that clarifies the causes and effects of public problems and the likely consequences of using one policy option or another to address them" (Kraft & Furlong, 2014, p. 3548). Unfortunately, Haleigh`s Hope Act law does not provide sick and vulnerable patients with safe, legal access to the medicine (Weedhorn, 2015, April 19). In the Georgia legislation, if the patient is less than 18 years of age then the parent or guardian must possess a card designating them as the patient`s caregiver (georgiacannabis.org, 2015). This law authorizes the University System of Georgia to develop a clinical research program in compliance with federal regulations (Weedhorn, 2015). Only individuals under 18 years old with medication-resistant epilepsy could participate (Weedhorn, 2015). The participants must also have been born in Georgia or have been a resident of the least 24 months state for at prior to participation (Weedhorn, 2015).
According to Kraft and Furlong, public policy should be determined by analyzing a variety of disciplines like science and technical fields, philosophysociologyeconomics and psychology. However, the authors posit that policy analysis is not supposed to determine "policy decisions but rather to inform the process of public deliberation and debate about those decisions" and that policy analysis is "part science and part political judgment" (Kraft & Furlong, 2014, p. 3548). In the case of Georgia`s law, this analysis did occur in the form of Representative Peake`s statewide public hearings about the issues related to medical marijuana. These hearings are examples of what Kraft and Furlong refer to as bringing "valuable information to both policymakers and the public." Finally, the authors assert that "policy choices usually reflect some combination of political preferences and various assessments of the problem and possible solutions to it" (Kraft & Furlong, 2014, p. 3583-3584).
Within established frameworks of policymaking, assessing the alternatives seems to be an integral part of the legislative process in legalizing cannabis oil for medical use in Georgia. Peake and his fellow Georgia lawmakers determined several courses of action or alternatives and then determined which were likely to be approved by the General Assembly and finally by the governor. In chapter six, Kraft and Furlong detail the criteria for analysis including effectiveness of public policy, the efficiency and the equity of the policy. Of particular interest in the medical marijuana debate was the ethical and political values of the proposed law. Per the authors, policymaking bodies should explicitly analyze the ethics and values associated with a particular bill in order to make better judgments outside the more easily determined effectiveness and efficiency of a particular piece of legislation (Kraft & Furlong, 2014, p. 5694). While chapter six considers the economic analysis of an issue, the Georgia debate does not focus on the economics as heavily as it does the ethical issues associated with cannabis oil.
In chapter five, the authors agree that "most public problems are not so simple; nor is the path to policy action... problem analysis involves trying to answer the basic questions about the nature of the problem, its extent or magnitude, how it came about, its major causes, and why it is important to consider as a matter of public policy" (Kraft & Furlong, 2014, p. 4468). Public problems are complicated, and are hard to understand. The issues are made more complex by the conflicting, biased messages that the public is faced with daily from interest groups, media outlets, competing political parties or candidates and random "experts." Accurate background information is essential to understanding the complexities of public issues and possible solutions to those dilemmas. In the case of Georgia`s medical cannabis oil issue, the public needed a lot of education about the facts surrounding the cannabis oil, the effects of the oil, the forms, and the conditions that it would be used to treat as well as the regulatory guidelines that would be implemented to ensure its safe use. Kraft and Furlong posit that "most public problems have multiple causes, not a single cause; therefore, people disagree over which is the most important and which ought to be the object of public policy" (p. 4477-4479). Additionally, the authors stated that "smart students of public policy learn how to deal with the politics and often overheated rhetoric that can sometimes cloud an objective review of the evidence" (Kraft & Furlong, 2014, p. 4477). Georgia`s debate about cannabis oil for medical treatment fell prey to the rhetoric and politics that surrounded the issue. As a result, the legislation is significantly more restricted than Representative Peake originally intended, having been forced to reduce the number of conditions it was approved for from 17 to eight. The production of the oil was restricted for the immediate future even though the legislation will be revisited and reassessed in 2016. However, as with all public policy and legislation, politics plays a role in its enactment. Peake and the patients and their families were thrilled to win even part of their battle over cannabis oil for treatment of a host of medical conditions. The legislation will be up for reassessment and revision in 2016 and certainly Georgia`s General Assembly will be in the media`s crosshairs in the coming months as it reviews the results of the legislation passed in 2015.

Bluestein, G. (2015). AJC. Medical marijuana is now legal in Georgia. Retrieved July 27,
2015 from http://politics.blog.ajc.com/2015/04/16/medical-marijuana-is-now-legal-in-georgia/
Breitbart News Network. (2015, April 16). Governor Nathan Deal Signs Georgia Medical
Marijuana Legalization Bill - Breitbart. Retrieved July 30, 2015, from http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/04/16/governor-nathan-deal-signs-georgia-medical-marijuana-legalization-bill/
Deitchler, D. L. (2015, April 18). United States: Georgia Becomes 26th Jurisdiction To
Decriminalize Medical Marijuana. Retrieved July 31, 2015 from http://www.mondaq.com/unitedstates/x/390288/employee+rights+labour+relations/Georgia+Becomes+26th+Jurisdiction+to+Decriminalize+Medical+Marijuana
Garvey, T. (2012, November 9). Congressional Research Service. Medical Marijuana:
The Supremacy Clause, Federalism, and the Interplay Between State and Federal Laws.
Georgia Regents University. (2015). Georgia Cannabidiol Study: Epidiolex Clinical
Trials. Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved August 1, 2015 from http://gru.edu/research/studies/cannabidiol/faq.php
Gieringer, D., Rosenthal, E., & Carter, G. (2008). Marijuana Medical Handbook:
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Hanson, K. (2015). National Conference of State Legislatures: State Medical
Marijuana Laws Retrieved July 27, 2015 from http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/state-medical-marijuana-laws.aspx
Hendrick, B. (2015). Georgia State Agencies Preparing for Medical Marijuana Law:
Retrieved July 27, 2015 from http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2015/03/30/362487.htm
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Forum 5. 1 - Policy Analysis Case Study
I use this book for this class: you must cite it in your assignment.
Kraft, M. E. & Furlong, S. R. (2015). Public policy: Politics, analysis, and alternatives (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Sage Press.

Provide a 500-word synopsis of your Policy Analysis Case Study (the Week 4 assignment). First, provide a quick background on the issue (with a link to any relevant articles or media clips), then provide a very brief synthesis of the actors, driving forces and contexts, and finally include some of your recommendations on the issue. Be sure to share the intent of the policy, what it is covering, any controversy involved and any compromises made.
As a part of community learning, let`s spend some time reviewing the projects of our colleagues and further explore our understanding of the policymaking process.
Once you have posted your synopsis, take a look at the posts made by your colleagues. Click through to any shared links and post thoughts or questions on the background of the issue, the actors and the recommendations made.
I want you to really dig down into the issue selected by your colleagues. Is your state dealing with a similar issue, are there shared learning`s you can provide, what else might you have wanted to know?
I`m looking for constructive feedback that shows your understanding of the issue and the policymaking process and your ability to apply what we have learned so far. I do not want to see: "nice job" or "I enjoyed reading your case study". These should be analytical postings that show you clearly understand the materials that have been presented in the class and can apply them to case studies. Also, be sure that your replies are professional and appropriately toned.
Initial Post
• Your initial post should be at least 500 words in length and no more than 750 words in length.
• Initial responses are to be original in content and demonstrate a thorough analysis of the topic.
• Include properly cited references.

Citation must be in APA Format
P.S: Reference sources relied on by the student is cited appropriately and accurately. No writing of others is left without quotation and/or attribution, as appropriate. APA Style is used correctly and consistently.
P.S: Please check and fix all grammar issues, this is a Master Degree course.

Content and Analysis The initial post answers the question(s) presented in the forum and shows the student`s grasp of the material. (0-35 points)The replies to other students validate the original post and follow up with additional analysis/alternative point of view. (0-15 points) The posts should show independent analysis and critical thought. 0-50
Use of Text and Scholarly Sources The initial post includes information from our text, course readings, videos and websites from the lessons and scholarly journals and clearly shows the student completed the assigned readings and lessons. At least three additional sources are required for full credit on the initial post. 0-20
Substantive Initial Post & Follow-up Posts The initial post should be substantive and at least 500 words but no more than 750. The follow-up replies should be at least 250 words and should expand upon or add to the thoughts presented. Meeting the minimum postings will not get you the maximum points. You should go over the minimum of 2 replies for full points. 0-15
Writing Skill All posts should be free of grammatical errors and should include proper citations. The initial post should be scholarly in style; however, the follow-up replies can be conversational. 0-15

Writing Expectations

All written submissions should be submitted in a font and page set-up that is readable and neat. It is recommended that students try to adhere to a consistent format, which is described below.
• Typewritten in double-spaced format with a readable style and font and submitted inside the electronic classroom. Please use: Times New Roman - 12
• Page margins Top, Bottom, Left Side and Right Side = 1 inch.


All courses in the Legal Studies program require that any narrative essay or composition format follow the legal citation guidelines set forth in The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, 19th ed., (2010).

Citation and Reference Style
Students will follow the APA Style as the sole citation and reference style used in written work submitted as part of coursework to the University. Assignments completed in a narrative essay or composition format must follow the citation style cited in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th ed.

Citation must be in APA Format

P.S: Reference sources relied on by the student is cited appropriately and accurately. No writing of others is left without quotation and/or attribution, as appropriate. APA Style is used correctly and consistently.

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