Medical marijuana in the form of cannabis oil will likely become legal in Georgia on Thursday. Those with the proper license would be allowed to possess up to 20 ounces of the oil once Republican Gov. Nathan Deal signs the bill into law.
The law would make it legal to possess cannabis oil, which would remain illegal to produce in-state. That means those who need it would have to buy it from outside Georgia, the Athens Banner Herald reported. Nearly a half-million people could benefit from the law, which would allow cannabis oil for eight conditions ranging from seizures to Parkinson's disease, WJBF in Augusta reported. But it's unclear if the federal government will allow Georgians who need the oil to acquire it from out of state.
Colorado would be the closest state from which Georgians could legally purchase marijuana. The Athens Banner Herald reported that two Colorado companies have agreed to ship oils with THC at levels of 0.3 percent to Georgia. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
"Until we have an in-state cultivation process and delivering system in Georgia we are going to continue to face these hurdles for our citizens," state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, told WJBF. At least 17 Georgians currently live in Colorado to gain access to marijuana for medical purposes, WSB-TV in Atlanta reported.
Those who qualify for the oil would have to see a doctor, who would then submit the appropriate forms to Georgia's Department of Public Health. "We're envisioning a system where [the doctors] will be able to do that electronically," said Shawn Ryan, a spokesman for the health department, WSB-TV reported. "We want it to be as seamless as possible.”
A driving force behind the movement to get the oil legalized in Georgia has been Valerie Weaver, whose son Preston has epilepsy and was the first patient in the state to receive the drug as part of a clinical trial. "I knew this could feasibly be something that would save his life and give him a better quality of life," she said of the cannabis oil legislation.
The prospect of the bill becoming law has made her "completely ecstatic," she said. "It's been a long time coming and it's been a long time needed," she told WJBF.