In 2015, the state of Georgia legalized medical cannabis oil – with 5 percent THC or less – for patients with epilepsy and similar seizure disorders. Since then, they have expanded that law to allow 16 other conditions, giving the state’s current 6,000 registered patients the ability to legally possess and use the medicine they need.
Unfortunately, that law did not make it legal for cannabis to be grown, processed or sold in the state – leaving patients with no way to access their now legal medicine. But it seems that could change this year.
“This is a massive step,” said Robert Lee, founder of GaXtracts. “Georgia is primed and in a good position to get this legislation in place and enable the industry to start growing.”
The conservative state appears to be starting 2019 by considering legislation that would allow the plant to be grown and sold in-state. This news comes shortly after Congress moved to legalize hemp with their latest farm bill, which makes sense as the state only allows low THC cannabis oil.
“It’s got the potential to be a big industry,” said state Rep. John Corbett, a Republican from Lake Park and the study committee’s chairman. “There might be years where hemp will give farmers an option to plant something that will generate income for them” besides corn, cotton, blueberries or soybeans.
As of right now, lawmakers would be considering allowing up to 10 growing licenses, 10 manufacturing licenses, and an “adequate” number of licenses for dispensaries throughout the state. There is currently no timeline to suggest how long after passing legislation applications would begin being accepted and processed – but the prospect is a reality now when it wasn’t a year ago.
“Even some of the traditional opponents of marijuana know this has been good for the patients,” said Gravley, a co-chairman of the Joint Study Commission on Low THC Medical Oil Access. “We haven’t seen the sky fall. We haven’t seen any negative side effects. We’re seeing people that benefit, in some cases by coming off opioids.”
In the past three years, some of the most conservative states have started to realize that medical marijuana access should be a standard. People shouldn’t have to go through the black market and worry about being arrested for using the medicine they need. Hopefully, Georgia will soon cross the thin line from merely allowing medical marijuana to providing safe access to it in the state as well.