On April 2, 2015 Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed the Haleigh’s Hope Act, Georgia’s first serious attempt to craft meaningful medical marijuana legislation, into law. With the signing of this new law, which is considered an experiment of sorts for many law makers, come stringent rules and regulations that govern who is eligible for medical cannabis oil and how the program is administered. In addition to the rules listed below this legislation also gives the green light to Georgia universities to create study programs specifically for the treatment of pediatric seizures disorders. The law also creates a commission for the purpose of examining the law and making recommendations for changes to the Governor.
Medical Marijuana Rules for Georgia Patients
Because Georgia’s medical marijuana law only provides protection from prosecution if a qualified patient possesses a legal amount of oil, there is no provision in Georgia law that suggests how a patient might actually obtain medical marijuana. In summary: Georgia’s medical marijuana law does not legalize the production or sale of marijuana, it simply decriminalizes its possession by certain qualified individuals.
In order to qualify for exemption from prosecution for possessing medical marijuana oil in Georgia the following conditions must be met:
- The person possessing the oil must be registered with the Georgia Department of Public Health and must have a registration card on their person when possessing said oil.
- If the patient is under 18 years of age then the parent or guardian must possess a card designating them as the patient’s caregiver.
- The medical marijuana oil must contain no more than 5% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), and it must contain an amount of CBD (cannabidiol) that is at least equal to the amount of THC.
- The low THC oil must be in a pharmaceutical container, and the label must clearly state the percentage of THC contained therein.
- The patient may possess no more than 20 fluid ounces of low THC oil.
How to Qualify for Medical Marijuana in Georgia
In order to qualify for exemption from prosecution for possession of marijuana oil in Georgia the patient must suffer from one of these qualifying illnesses:
- Cancer, when such diagnosis is end stage or the treatment produces related wasting illness or recalcitrant nausea and vomiting
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, when such diagnosis is severe or end stage
- Seizure disorders related to diagnosis of epilepsy or trauma related head injuries
- Multiple sclerosis, when such diagnosis is severe or end stage
- Crohn’s disease
- Mitochondrial disease
- Parkinson’s disease, when such diagnosis is sever or end stage
- Sickle cell disease, when such diagnosis is severe or end stage
- Tourette’s syndrome, when such syndrome is diagnosed as severe
- Autism spectrum disorder, when (a) patient is 18 years of age or more, or (b) patient is less than 18 years of age and diagnosed with severe autism
- Epidermolysis bullosa
- Alzheimer’s disease, when such disease is severe or end stage
- AIDS when such syndrome is severe or end stage
- Peripheral neuropathy, when symptoms are severe or end stage
- Patient is in hospice program, either as inpatient or outpatient
- Intractable pain
- Post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from direct exposure to or witnessing of a trauma for a patient who is at least 18 years of age
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can recommend medical marijuana oil in Georgia?
Only a physician with whom the patient has a bona-fide doctor-patient relationship may recommend marijuana oil, and only when it is the physician treating the patient for the qualifying condition.
When can I register for medical marijuana oil in Georgia?
The Georgia Department of Health will begin issuing certifications on or before September 1, 2015.
Where will I get marijuana oil from once I have received my certification?
Georgia law does not address where patients will obtain their medicine from, it only exempts them from prosecution if they are found to be in possession. Most patients order their medicine from a reputable producer in a state where the production of marijuana for medicinal purposes is legal. It is very important to order only from producers who have their product tested and properly labeled.
What if I get caught with low THC oil but I am not a registered patient?
Possession of 20 fluid ounces or less is considered a misdemeanor and over 20 fluid ounces is a felony. It is unknown if law enforcement would be interested enough in low THC oil in order to prosecute someone for possessing a small amount, but of the hundreds (perhaps even more) Georgians that already use low THC cannabis oil there has not yet been a reported prosecution for possession of a small amount, which has already been classified by the federal government as something not worth worrying about.