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Georgia’s Progress Towards Cannabis Legalization

Georgia Moves Towards Cannabis Legalization

While the federal government keeps cannabis illegal, states are taking steps toward legalization. Georgia is one of these. Its cannabis laws allow low-THC oil for certain medical conditions, but only if you have a doctor’s prescription.

The state’s Hope Act allows six producers to grow medical marijuana, and universities and pharmacies can sell it. Those who lost the competitive bids sued, stalling the program.

Legalization

Unlike many states, Georgia does not legalize the cultivation of marijuana for personal use. However, it does allow licensed businesses to grow and sell low-THC cannabis oil to people who have been issued a state registry card. Possession of other forms of marijuana is still illegal under state law, including smoking, vaping, and edibles.

The Haleigh’s Hope Act allows registered patients to possess 20 fluid ounces of low-THC cannabis oil and provides immunity from prosecution for their possession. The law is named after a Georgia girl who suffered from seizures. The law also authorizes the creation of a commission to manage the program.

Currently, there are no dispensaries in Georgia. However, the legislature has passed a bill that will make it possible for pharmacists to offer medical marijuana products if they are licensed. This will give residents access to medical marijuana in capsules, lozenges, oils, and suppositories. It will also help to eliminate the need for patients to cross state lines for access.

Access

While Georgia legislators are making strides to reform state marijuana laws, it seems that the state is not ready to take the leap to full legalization. As of now, qualifying patients can purchase low-THC oils from certain pharmacies.

The governing body of the medical marijuana program is still trying to establish itself. It is alleged that the Office of State Administrative Hearings has kept records and proceedings secret, despite a brief from the Georgia First Amendment Foundation arguing that it was in violation of state law.

The law only allows for six medical marijuana producers to cultivate cannabis preparations, and it is up to those companies to make them available to Georgians through pharmacies. The law also only permits the purchase of low-THC oils for nine specific medical conditions and diseases, including end-stage cancer, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), severe seizures, Crohn’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, and mitochondrial disease. Those who do not qualify to purchase these products are currently considered criminals.

Safety

As a state with strict drug laws, Georgia has seen disproportionate numbers of people arrested and incarcerated for cannabis-related offenses. This has impacted black residents more than their white counterparts, and has contributed to the racial divide in prison populations. Despite the fact that marijuana is not a dangerous drug, it still remains illegal to possess or grow in Georgia. The cultivation, sale, and possession of marijuana concentrates attract a fine or imprisonment of up to 3 years.

In May of 2018, a scientific poll showed that 55% of Georgians favor legalizing marijuana for adult use. However, the Georgia Sheriffs Association and other groups are against it.

As of now, only patients with a doctor’s prescription can access low-dose THC oil through pharmacies in the state. The products can contain no more than 5% THC, the substance that produces a high. This is more restrictive than in 38 other states.

Research

In Georgia, a medical marijuana law allows patients with certain conditions to purchase low-THC oil in pharmacies. However, patients must have a physician’s recommendation and a state-issued card to buy cannabis products. The drug can only contain up to 5 percent THC, which is the chemical that produces a high. The law is regulated by the Georgia Access to Medical Marijuana Commission.

While national chains like CVS won’t sell THC products in the state, Long says that more than 130 local pharmacies have agreed to carry his product exclusively and 90% of Georgians are within a 30-minute drive from a pharmacy that will have this new option for their health. The news has caught many by surprise, including late-night host Jimmy Kimmel.

Shannon Cloud of Macon said that her daughter, who has Dravet syndrome, needs cannabis to control her seizures. Before the legalization of cannabis, she had to travel to Colorado to get it for her. Now, she is working to have this option available for Georgia residents.

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