Photo credit Macon.com
Georgia lawmakers managed to pass a meaningful expansion of the two year-old cannabis oil law by adding several new qualifying conditions and making it easier for some patients with a current qualifying condition to receive certification, although in-state cultivation is still off the table (for now).
As a result of the efforts of representative Allen Peake (R- Macon) and other members of the General Assembly, the Georgia House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to adopt the House substitute for Senate Bill 16 by a 167-4 vote. It then passed in the Senate by a 45-6 vote on the last day of the 2017 legislative session and it now moves to Governor Deal for his signature.
If signed by the governor, the passage of SB16 will mean patients who suffer from Tourette’s Syndrome, Autism and other medical conditions that have shown promise with the treatment of medical marijuana will now qualify for certification under Georgia’s Low THC Oil program. In addition, patients who are under the care of a Georgia hospice will also qualify for cannabis oil. Specifically, patients with the following medical conditions will now qualify for a low THC oil card:
- Cancer, when the disease is severe or end stage OR treatment produces wasting or nausea and vomiting
- ALS (severe or end stage)
- Seizure disorders related to epilepsy or head trauma
- MS (severe or end stage)
- Crohn’s disease
- Mitochondrial disease
- Parkinson’s disease (severe or end stage)
- Sickle Cell disease (severe or end stage)
- Tourette’s Syndrome (severe)
- Autism (all patients over 18 qualify, under 18 must be diagnosed as severe)
- Epidermolysis bullosa
- Alzheimer’s disease (severe or end stage)
- AIDS (severe or end stage)
- Peripheral neuropathy (severe or end stage)
In addition to the new conditions listed above, SB16 will also make other changes to Georgia’s low THC oil law, including:
- Removes the one-year residency requirement.
- Allows certification for patients that are in either an inpatient or outpatient hospice program, regardless of diagnosis.
- Requires semi-annual reporting by recommending physicians to include the level of THC in the oil the patient has been taking.
- Provides reciprocity for qualified patients from other states that allow the patient to possess low THC oil.
Many Georgia activists were unhappy with the fact that the expansion did not include a mechanism for in-state cannabis cultivation or cannabis oil production, as well as the exclusion of conditions like PTSD and Fibromyalgia. Rep. Peake offered a separate resolution earlier in the legislative session (HR 36) that would have given Georgia voters a say on the issue of in-state cultivation but it was defeated in the House. “While this bill does not go as far as many of us would like, it does add six more conditions to the already successful program in our current law and this will allow many more hurting Georgians to benefit from medical cannabis oil as an option,” Peake told the AJC on Tuesday.