While 26 states allow the cultivation, production and sale of medical marijuana there are still those who do not allow it at all – and 16 who operate under such strict restrictions that it is legal to possess, but with no way to legally obtain, the medicine. One such state is Georgia, who last year passed a law that allowed registered medical marijuana patients to possess up to 20 ounces of very limited forms of CBD oil. The only conditions that qualify under this law are cancer, Parkinson’s and epilepsy.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest struggles for patients has been the difficulty of finding a doctor to become a legally registered patient to begin with. As a precaution, to ensure that patients didn’t shop around for doctors, the list of doctors who are registered and qualified to provide a medical marijuana recommendation has been kept private – meaning patients have no way to look up a physician who will be willing to provide them the recommendation they need.
This has led patients with no choice but to look to other patients for the name of a physician they can see. Word of mouth and the personal websites of parents and patients in the state has been the only way that patients are able to get in touch with the right doctor – causing only 130 patients to be enrolled this time last year when the program launched and only around 830 people presently; all of whom had a hard time finding one of the 274 doctors in the state who have registered for the program.
“That’s what a legal possession-only law creates — until parents have some way to have safe and consistent access, they are forced to break the law to meet the standards of what Georgia has allowed,” said Blaine Cloud, who with his wife, Shannon, have been at the forefront of an organized push by parents to expand Georgia’s law.
On top of making it nearly impossible for patients (and parents of pediatric patients with epilepsy) to even register for the program, they have also continued to make it nearly impossible for them to obtain the medicine – and absolutely impossible to do so in a legal manner. Patients are forced to either bring the CBD oil in from other states or grow and process it themselves – attempts to bring legal access were denied by lawmakers this year, though there is hope that in time this can be fixed.
The idea behind the law was great – but a year after the law went into effect patients are still struggling to get registered into the program and obtain the medicine they need. Laws like this one need to be expanded, patients don’t deserve to be turned into criminals and they don’t deserve to have to wait months until they can find a physician willing to work with them – there is so much that could be done to better this bill and hopefully in time, some of these changes will be made.