Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has signed into law a bill that allows patients to access low-potency cannabis oil.
Actually, patients with certain medical conditions are already allowed to possess and use low-THC medical cannabis oil to treat their symptoms. However, due to a legal quirk, these patients don’t have a legal way to obtain it in the state. They have to regularly break the law in order to get their hands on their much-needed medication.
Now, Republican Gov. Kemp has signed a “carefully crafted and balanced measure” that fixes this problem.
The new law, according to Gov. Kemp, expands access for patients who need medical cannabis without opening the door to the recreational use of the drug.
Legalization of medical cannabis and the legal loophole
In February 2015, the Georgia House of Representatives passed a measure legalizing CBD oil or medical cannabis oil containing only up to 5% THC. And in April 2015, then-Governor Nathan Deal signed the bill under the Haleigh’s Hope Act.
The original bill allowed the possession of the cannabis oil for eight qualifying medical conditions. However, it did not provide for the cultivation, distribution, and purchase of the drug within the state.
An expansion of the legislation in May 2017 added six more medical conditions. And in 2018, two more were added: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and intractable pain. But still, the production, sale, and purchase of cannabis oil was still prohibited.
There were several attempts to expand the law even further to allow access to medical marijuana by providing for the in-state cultivation of the plant. However, these efforts were met with resistance by certain politicians, and so they ultimately failed.
What the new measure is about
The newly signed legislation now permits the production and sale of cannabis oil in the state. This closes the loophole in the 2015 law that bans the cultivation, sale, and purchase of the drug that certain patients are legally allowed to possess.
Kemp said that instead of crossing state lines and breaking a number of laws in the process, patients with cancer, Parkinson’s disease, seizure disorders, and other qualified medical conditions can now just stay within the state to get their medication.
Moreover, the new measure grants up to six cultivation licenses to private companies: two for bigger organizations and four for the smaller ones. Pharmacies are also given priority for the license to distribute the drug. The state commission, however, is allowed to look for independent retail locations if there is a need. The commission can also try to legally obtain cannabis oil from other states.
Additionally, two universities will be permitted to seek federal approval to conduct research on the oil and produce it.
The state government still currently needs to appoint members of the commission or oversight board. It also needs to create regulations.
As of now, around 8,400 people have signed up on the programs registry that qualifies them for the low-THC Oil Registry Card.