Landmark. That’s how supporters are describing House Bill 1 in Georgia today. Governor Nathan Deal did the right thing today in signing the bill today legalizing medical marijuana for eight disorders.
The bill takes effect immediately, and allows the possession of of up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil if a doctor signs off on the treatment.
Observers in Georgia estimate hundreds of families will immediately find relief with the new law, and the 17 families who fled Georgia to access the oil could return.
While supporters trumpet the achievement, this is still a baby step in the right direction. Though patients can possess cannabis oil, there is no in-state infrastructure to sell the drug or cultivate it. Both are still illegal.
Patients would have to have the drug shipped or travel to states where the drug is sold. Travelling across state lines and shipping the oil is still illegal in the eyes of federal government and a majority of states.
Pro-tip for cops finding cannabis oil with THC levels less than 5% in Georgia-bound cars? Look for the Georgia marijuana permit. Your run of bad press has been staggering, so let’s not see the CNN report of you tossing car seats out of a minivan over cannabis oil.
Listen to the words of Gov. Deal as he signed the bill on the steps of the Capitol in Atlanta.
“This certainly has touched my heart,” said Deal, his voice cracking. “And I’m pleased today we’re going to make a difference.”
Rep. Allen Peake
With conservative opposition to the law, it was up to Rep. Allen Peake, a Macon republican who has been at the forefront of pushing the legislation through.
Lawmakers compromised with Peake despite opposition to the law that wanted stricter limits on what is already a strict bill.
At the signing ceremony, Rep. Peake turned to the families lining the steps: “You can come home now!”
Georgia Marijuana Permit
With the law comes the rush to get a system in place for marijuana permits. With zero infrastructure for doctors and patients to apply to use the drug, the system will have to be built from the ground up.
Deal has pledged to have the system up and running in two months.
Georgia Marijuana Law
This is not Colorado or the medical legalization of California. The law is strict in what it treats for both children and adults.
Only cannabis oil can be used, and eight disorders are eligible: cancer, Crohn’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, mitochondrial disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, seizure disorders and sickle cell disease.
State clinical trials were also approved in the bill, which could lead to more diseases being added to the list, along with various strains of marijuana.
The law does run afoul of federal law that prohibits the use of marijuana. It’s a tricky one for lawmakers to navigate, even though parents readily proclaim their willingness to break marijuana laws to help their children.
“If I had to break federal law, I’ll gladly do it,” said Janea Cox, whose daughter Haleigh suffers from seizures that resolve with cannabis oil. “If they want to come get us, then come get us.”
With more research pointing to the benefits of marijuana, it’s time for the federal government to do the right thing. At the very least, move it to Schedule II.
Next step? Decriminalize it. Enjoy the revenue boom Colorado is having. Taxing marijuana will be the easiest bill you’ve ever passed.