Yesterday, Governor Deal wept as he spoke on the passage and signing of HB 1, Haleigh’s Hope Act. The new law allows the use of cannabis oil to treat eight serious medical conditions like seizures, epilepsy and sickle cell anemia. Patients can possess up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil with no more than 5% of tetrahydrocannabinoil or THC, the chemical in marijuana that causes a high. Deal noted that ‘the wait was over’ for families who have been living in Colorado since the legalization of medical marijuana.
Cannabis oil is now legal to possess cannabis oil in Georgia, as it is in 35 other states, however, federal law strictly prohibits the transfer across state lines and Governor Deal, during the legislative session, made it clear he would not support in-state growing.
The real champion of the issue, however, is Rep. Allen Peake of Macon. Peake worked tirelessly for two years to raise awareness an garner statewide support for cannabis oil. In 2014, the measure passed the House but was blocked by Senator Renee Unterman over a senate autism bill. This year, with over 70% of the public supporting the initiative, blockage just was not possible.
Patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease; cancer; Crohn’s disease; mitochondrial disease; multiple sclerosis; Parkinson’s disease; seizure disorders; and sickle cell anemia can all receive cannabis oil permits with a doctor’s approval, hopefully within the next 30-60 days.
Temporary permits have been issued to the families living in other states. l
In his speech, Deal emphasized that the law does not allow the cultivation, manufacturing or sale of medical marijuana in the state. Rep. Peake believes in-state cultivation of cannabis oil should be the next step to avoid further obstacles for families and patients. What will become of the next legislative session remains to be seen.