Georgia Expands Medical Marijuana Program

By Kelly Burch 04/18/19

The new law allows cannabis to be grown at four facilities in the state, and oils to be sold at 28 dispensaries.

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On Wednesday, Georgia governor Brian Kemp signed a bill into law that will allow medical marijuana patients to legally purchase some cannabis products in the state. 

The state has allowed patients to use cannabis oil since 2015, but they have not been legally able to purchase oils in Georgia, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It is also illegal to grow cannabis or bring it in from another state. 

Dr. Larry Tune, a geriatric neuropsychiatrist at Emory University Hospital, said that he would write prescriptions for medical marijuana, knowing how difficult it would be for patients to obtain

“We can do that paperwork but it’s pointless,” he said. 

The new law allows cannabis to be grown at four facilities in the state, and oils to be sold at 28 dispensaries, the AJC reported. Gov. Brian Kemp signed the measure on Wednesday, a little under a week after it passed the Senate. 

Kemp said earlier this month that he understood why lawmakers in Georgia were hesitant to change the state’s marijuana laws, but he also recognized that the measure was important.  

“It’s a very, very tough issue. But there’s a lot of legislative support for it. I respect the legislative process, and I understand why people are doing it, and I understand why people have grave concerns about this,” he said. “I have all of those feelings. It’s a really tough spot.”

Sen. Matt Brass, a Republican, said that the expansion will make life easier for people who are critically ill, including children. 

“Some may argue that this is not medicine,” he said. “But we had testimony of children having 80 to 100 seizures a day, but after taking the oil are having just one a week.”

Although no lawmakers spoke out against the new law, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan said that the law is not the first step to radially changing marijuana policy in Georgia. 

“There is no part of me that wants any steps toward recreational marijuana,” he said. 

Shannon Cloud, whose daughter uses medical marijuana, said the law will improve the lives of patients who need the treatment. 

“I had a career, and I had to quit in part because of this. I wanted to spend more time with my kids, but it takes a lot of time to coordinate all of this,” she said of obtaining her daughters’ medication. “I am not getting paid. I am just trying to get people the medicine.”

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

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