When Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed House Bill 324 earlier this year, families and patients were hopeful they would receive the products they needed. Six months later, there has not been a single legal cannabis plant made available for patient needs.
Patients and parents are continuing to wait for Gov. Kemp to appoint a commission that will assist in regulating medical marijuana in Georgia. This commission, a startup, will oversee medical marijuana production and distribution within the state. Without this appointed body, there can be no legal production, distribution, or consumption.
Moreover, Georgia’s medical marijuana law is a shell of what other states might allow; it is legal for those with registry cards to consume THC oil, but there is no medical marijuana supply. As a result, many say medical legalization has done nothing to help Georgia residents. They still cannot get the medications and products they need.
Georgia’s Medical Marijuana Law
Currently, the state’s medical marijuana law allows qualified persons to legally possess up to 20 fluid ounces of “low THC oil.” This oil is derived from marijuana, and individuals need to obtain a “Low THC Oil Registry Card” from the state Department of Public Health.
If this sounds like a strict law, you’re right – Georgia’s law is far more limited than other states’ medical marijuana use regulations. The state does not legalize the use or possession of the plant in leaf form, as vapor, or as included in food products. As a result, residents cannot manufacture their own marijuana and must instead rely on state-vetted products. Herein lies one of the main issues with the legislative stalemate.
Currently, Georgia law allows more than 8,400 patients on a state registry to use THC oil. Those on the registry live with a range of illnesses and conditions, including daily seizures, Parkinson’s disease, and terminal cancers. While the state has granted them the permission to utilize THC oil, there is currently no way to legally obtain the product. The oil is usually acquired in another state and brought across state lines into Georgia. This is a violation of federal law.
Additionally, Georgia continues to prohibit marijuana in plant form, which means residents cannot manufacture their own THC. Most states with recreational and/or lax medical laws allow individuals to grow their own marijuana, preventing residents from relying wholly on state-sanctioned dispensaries. This is not the case in Georgia.
Legislative Inaction Continues to Obstruct
Though no members of the commission have been appointed, more than 50 applications have been submitted. Gov. Kemp, as well as Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and state House Speaker David Ralston, are charged with appointing members. They have not tapped a single member to serve on the essential panel.
Until a commission is appointed, legal medical marijuana use in Georgia will remain impossible.