Georgia: Governor Signs Low-THC Medical Marijuana Oil Bill Into Law
By Steve Elliott
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal on Thursday signed legislation immediately legalizing the use of low-THC medical marijuana oil to treat eight serious medical conditions.
The new law, sponsored in the Georgia House by state Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), makes it legal to possess up to 20 ounces of "fluid cannabis oil." The catch is, that oil can contain no more than 5 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive component of cannabis and also one of its chief medicinal compounds. Scientific research has shown that all the cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant, including THC and CBD, work best when used together, a phenomenon known as the "Entourage Effect."
Georgia's new medical marijuana law, a slight improvement on the "CBD only" laws passed by lawmakers in other conservative states, makes it legal to use cannabis oil to treat patients with epilepsy and other seizure disorders; Lou Gehrig's disease; cancer; multiple sclerosis; Crohn's disease; mitochondrial disease; Parkinson's disease; and sickle cell anemia.
"For the families enduring separation and patients suffering pain, the wait is finally over," Gov. Deal said, his voice cracking. "Now, Georgia children and their families may return home, while continuing to receive much-needed care.
"Patients such as Haleigh Cox, for whom this bill is named, and others suffering from debilitating conditions can now receive the treatment they need, in the place where they belong -- Georgia," Deal said.
The Governor hugged Haleigh, 5, who has intractable epilepsy, and her mother, Janea Cox, who had moved to Colorado a few months ago while husband and father Brian stayed in Georgia.
Mike Hopkins, 53, of Covington, who came home from Colorado for the signing ceremony, said he's not willing to take a chance that his daughter, Michala, might not be able to be treated with cannabis oil due to interference from federal Transportation Security Administration officials at airports. Two of Hopkins' children have died.
"We're going to stay in Colorado awhile," Hopkins said. "We just can't take the chance."
Georgia should legalize in-state cultivation of cannabis to make the oil, to remove any risk of interstate transportation, according to both Rep. Peake, author of the bill, and medical marijuana patient advocates.
Photo of Gov. Nathan Deal signing bill: David Goldman/AP