Georgia to Legalize Medical Marijuana Oil

Today, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is expected to sign into law HB 1, a bill aimed at legalizing marijuana oil for patients suffering from debilitating conditions. After clearing the state Senate, the bill went back to the House for reconciliation where it was overwhelmingly approved by a vote of 48-6.

Dubbed “Haleigh’s Hope,” the bill will allow patients with one of eight medical conditions to have legal access to marijuana oil, including HIV, cancer and ALS. The original bill included fibromyalgia as one of the qualifying conditions, but that was discarded in committee.

The conditions that remained in the bill were Crohn’s disease, cancer, ALS, seizure disorders related to epilepsy or trauma-related head injuries, mitochondrial disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and sickle-cell disease.

An amendment to the bill would have added autism to the list of qualifying conditions, but that was defeated in the House.

Unlike other southern states that passed CBD-only marijuana reform, Haleigh’s Hope makes marijuana with 5 percent THC available to patients. Although it does not goes as far as other states with marijuana oil laws, like New York, the bill is better than what most could hope for in a state like Georgia.

One of the driving forces that helped Haleigh’s Hope trump partisan politics was Georgia’s “medical marijuana refugees.” According to The Cannabist, 17 families have moved from Georgia to Colorado in order to give their ailing children access to medical marijuana.

Janea Cox is the mother of Haleigh Cox, one of Georgia’s medical marijuana refugees and inspiration for this bill. Speaking with NBC News, she expressed her relief at finally being able to come home.

“It’s a huge weight off our shoulders that we don’t have to stay in Colorado another year,” Cox said. “It’s giving my husband and I a chance to be a family again.”

Once HB 1 is signed into law, medical marijuana patients will be allowed to obtain up to 20 ounces of marijuana oil under strict state supervision. At the moment, there is not a lot of discussion about how the medical marijuana is going to be produced, but that should be the next step in the process.

The bill creates something called the Georgia Marijuana Commission, which will be a marijuana regulatory board comprised mostly of law enforcement, health officials and politicians. There are no representatives from the marijuana industry on this board, so the regulations that do come out may not be favorable towards the industry.

Although this bill may not be what the industry wanted, it allows thousands of ailing Georgians a chance at relief. Georgia is not going to be an economic hotspot for legal marijuana, but it may inspire surrounding states, like Florida, to pass legislation.

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