Registered patients will have safe, in-state access to low-THC oil.
In 2015, the Georgia General Assembly passed a bill allowing patients to register to possess up to 20 fluid ounces of medical cannabis oil with up to 5% THC. The legislature later expanded the law to include more medical conditions, and more than 8,000 patients are signed up. However, the law didn’t include any access to cannabis oil.
Under the Georgia’s Hope Act, six producers will be allowed to cultivate medical cannabis preparations in Georgia, as could two universities. Pharmacies will sell the medical cannabis preparations, and regulators could authorize private dispensaries. (Due to medical cannabis’ federal illegality, it is far from certain that universities or pharmacies would participate.) It is expected to take at least a year before legal sales begin.
You can check out MPP’s summary of the law here.
MPP is grateful to CompassionateGA, and its lobbyist Jacob Eassa, for their advocacy efforts and to all the patients and loved ones who spoke out for so many years. We also appreciate the leadership of bill sponsor Rep. Micah Gravley (R) and former Rep. Allen Peake (R) and all the lawmakers who supported the legislation.
Stay tuned for updates during implementation, along with next year’s efforts to improve the law.
Georgia's Hope Act heads to Gov. Kemp, who is expected to sign it.
Yesterday evening, in the waning hours before the legislature adjourned for 2019, a conference committee hammered out final language to allow safe access to low-THC medical cannabis oil within Georgia. The Senate signed off on the Georgia's Hope Act in a 34-20 vote, while the House vote was 147-16.
The Georgia's Hope Act, HB 324, now heads to Gov. Brian Kemp (R), who is expected to sign it into law.
In 2015, the Georgia General Assembly passed a bill allowing patients to register to possess up to 20 fluid ounces of medical cannabis oil with up to 5% THC. The legislature later expanded the law to include more medical conditions, and more than 8,000 patients are signed up. However, the law didn't include any access to cannabis oil.
Under the Georgia's Hope Act, six producers could cultivate medical cannabis preparations in Georgia, as could two universities. Pharmacies could sell the medical cannabis preparations, and regulators could authorize private dispensaries. (Due to medical cannabis' federal illegality, it is far from certain that universities or pharmacies would participate.)
MPP is grateful to Jacob Eassa, lobbyist with CompassionateGA, who worked hard to get the bill past the finish line and ensure the bill remained workable. We would also like to thank MPP grantee Nora Bushfield of CompassionateGA for their organizing efforts and all the patients and loved ones who spoke out for so many years. And of course, this was only possible due to the leadership of bill sponsor Rep. Micah Gravley (R), former Rep. Allen Peake (R) who championed medical cannabis legislation for years, and all the lawmakers who supported the legislation.
While this is a huge victory, work remains to be done in future legislative sessions to improve the law. It still does not meet MPP's definition of an effective medical cannabis law.
Over the past several days, MPP has learned of an absurd proposal that would require Georgia to import low-THC oil from other states rather than allowing in-state production. This is a seriously flawed solution. Not only would federal law enforcement authorities refuse to authorize such a scheme, no other states allow out-of-state exports. Georgia patients will again be left on their own.
Patients lives are in the balance. Call Lt. Gov. Duncan right now and tell him Georgia should not waste time with unworkable proposals for patients.
It is likely this idea will be considered in committee tomorrow, so it is critical the lieutenant governor hear from you before 1:00 p.m. tomorrow. If you plan to call and you haven't already, don't delay!
Since passage of its low-THC oil program in 2015, patients have technically had permission to possess oil, but it has been illegal for them to obtain it from any source. The state is looking for a solution, and lawmakers are considering measure HB 324, which would create a program similar to 33 other states across the U.S. See our summary here. Ideas like interstate trafficking only serve to undermine realistic proposals like HB 324.
If you haven't called the lt. governor already, please do so now. Follow this link and call today to tell him you won't allow it.
Then, pass this email to friends, family, and other medical cannabis supporters in Georgia.
Rep. Micah Gravley's bill, HB 324, which would allow in-state cultivation, processing, and sale of low-THC oil in Georgia, took major step forward this week when it passed the Georgia House of Representatives on a vote of 123 to 40. If the measure becomes law, the state would provide welcome relief for patients, who today can possess low-THC oil, but are denied any way to access it in-state.
If you support a well-regulated program to cultivate, process, and provide low-THC cannabis products for patients, click here to tell your state senator!
For a summary of many of the bill's provisions, click here. This year's bill follows a legislative study commission's recommendation published in late 2018. That study, now available online, recommended state-licensed producers to cultivate and process cannabis plants into low-THC oil, along with a limited number of retail sales locations.
Please add your voice to the large majority of Georgians who support in-state access. Patients should not have to wonder where their medicine will come from or be exposed to criminal penalties importing low-THC oil from other states. It's time for a better solution.
Please forward this message to family, friends, and supporters in your network!
For supporters of sensible marijuana policies, the choice for governor couldn’t be more clear.
Georgia’s general election is coming up on Tuesday, November 6, and there is national attention on Georgia’s choices for governor. Before you vote, we want to let you know about the stark differences between the candidates’ stances on marijuana policy reform.
Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) opposes in-state cultivation of medical marijuana, even though thousands of medical cannabis patients in Georgia lack reasonable access to the low-THC oils they are allowed to possess. Kemp would perpetuate the harmful contradiction in the state program, treating seriously ill patients like second class citizens. Turning to adult-use, his website says he “is not in the camp of being pro-recreational marijuana.” MPP gives Brian Kemp an F for failing the state’s most vulnerable citizens.
Stacey Abrams, former House minority leader, has been clear in her support improving state cannabis laws. Not only does she support in-state cultivation and oversight in a well-regulated program, she also supports removing criminal penalties for possession as Atlanta did last year, and will even consider ending marijuana prohibition once the other reforms are made. In stark contrast to her opponent, MPP rates Stacey Abrams with an A for the support she offers for sensible cannabis policy.
You can find a summary of Georgia’s current low-THC law, Haleigh’s Hope Act, here.
For more information on early voting and Election Day voting, including where you can cast your ballot and when voting locations will be open, check out the state’s elections website here.
Please forward this to your network, and be sure to get out and vote!
Georgians suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and those with intractable pain may begin signing up for the state’s low-THC oil program. A bill passed earlier this year, House Bill 65, went into effect on July 1, adding these two serious conditions.
Intractable pain is devastating and is often defined as constant and excruciating. Those who experience it sometimes turn to reliance on opioid medications. While low-THC oil may not replace opioids for these patients, many have found medical cannabis products can allow them to use fewer opioids by reducing pain levels, helping patients maintain appetite and serving as a sleep aid. It can be an important new tool in a treatment program.
Many who suffer from PTSD can also find relief through use of medical cannabis products. This debilitating disease can affect all aspects of a person’s life, and like intractable pain, pharmaceutical drugs used to treat the condition can themselves cause harm. Veterans and those experiencing PTSD deserve a safer alternative.
The state’s program has grown in recent years, but Georgia’s limited, low-THC approach remains flawed. While patients have some protections, there is no regulatory system behind production or sale, leaving access to cannabis in the shadows. We hope Georgia can improve its program when lawmakers reconvene in 2019.
While short of a complete solution, these changes are welcome.
Yesterday, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) signed a bill that will significantly expand the number of patients who qualify for the state's low-THC medical cannabis oils. Beginning on July 1, HB 65 will allow patients with intractable pain and adults with PTSD to qualify for the program, which allows registered patients to possess cannabis oils with no more than 5% THC content.
Georgia’s most passionate legislative champion of medical cannabis — Rep. Allen Peake (R) — sponsored both HB 65 and another bill — HB 645 — which would have allowed in-state production of cannabis oils. Currently, registered patients have nowhere to legally purchase cannabis oils in Georgia. Unfortunately, HB 645 didn’t receive a floor vote. However, HB 65 includes a study commission on in-state access to cannabis. Seriously ill patients who are already granted the ability to possess cannabis products clearly need a way to obtain them without sidestepping the law.
This is Rep. Peake’s last year in the legislature; he announced in February that he will not run for re-election. His leadership will be missed in the capital!
Yesterday, Georgia lawmakers began their work in 2018, and they are again considering improvements to the state’s medical marijuana program. Two bills, HB 645 and HR 36, have been proposed to establish much-needed medical cannabis access for patients.
If you are a Georgia resident, please send a message to your state lawmakers in support of a workable system that includes cultivation, processing, and sales within Georgia for the state’s seriously ill patients.
Georgia has a very limited medical marijuana law, but prohibits in-state cultivation, processing, and regulated sales of medical cannabis. Georgia’s law encourages patients to obtain medicine through illicit means. It leaves patients with no option but to travel out of state for access to their medicine and bring it back, which is a violation of both federal law and of state law in places where medical cannabis is available. The law puts Georgians in harm’s way.
Rep. Allen Peake, long a champion for compassionate medical marijuana laws, is working on two possible solutions. First, HB 645 would allow two cannabis business licensees to grow, process, and sell medical cannabis oil. Meanwhile, HR 36 would allow lawmakers to place the issues of business regulations before voters in November.
In Georgia this week, he Atlanta City Council took a historic step when it voted unanimously to stop jailing people for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana! Following the vote, Atlanta’s Mayor Kasim Reed tweeted that he will sign the ordinance into law.
Once the measure is in effect, a person caught with one ounce or less of marijuana in the city would face a maximum fine of just $75 and no jail time under city law. Unfortunately, state law would not change, so it is possible that local law enforcement could still arrest under the harsher state penalties. This is also the case on college and university campuses, which may or may not change policy.
In other words, advocates should remain vigilant to ensure the spirit of the law is respected.
For the measure’s sponsor, Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall, the change is about fairness in Atlanta’s criminal justice system. Shockingly, 92 percent of those arrested for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana in the city of Atlanta are African-American, even though they make up just over half the resident population in the city. This change to the law is a welcome one.
You can read the text of the measure adopted by the city council here.
If you are a Georgia resident, please let your state lawmakers know that you want them to follow Atlanta’s lead and stop arresting marijuana consumers.
Both the Georgia House and Senate this year presented bills that would make changes to the state’s low-THC medical marijuana law. The better of the two, House Bill 65, just passed the House by a huge margin of 156-6 in support. The bill is now on its way to the Senate.
House Bill 65 would increase the list of qualifying medical conditions, adding HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, autoimmune disease, peripheral neuropathy, and others, and it would offer basic protections for those patients visiting from out-of-state. Unfortunately for many veterans and others, PTSD was removed from the list while in committee earlier this week.
The Senate’s bill, SB 16, has already passed the Senate. Unfortunately, while it would add autism as a qualifying medical condition, it would lower the total amount of THC allowable in medical marijuana products from 5% to 3%, harming the program for all who participate.