Updated on January 28, 2019.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
The state of Georgia could be joining 29 other states and Washington, D.C., in the legalization of medical marijuana.
Since the passing of House Bill 1 in 2014, the state has allowed patients with eight specific medical conditions to possess medical marijuana oil without prosecution. Six more conditions were added to the list this year, which now includes diseases and symptoms like seizures, ALS, cancer, Parkinson’s, AIDS, Tourette’s, autism and Alzheimer’s, to name a few. Residents have responded to public polls showing their support for the list of approved medical conditions to expand further.
To make it happen, two upcoming pieces of legislation, House Resolution 36 and House Bill 645, need support from both state legislators and Georgia residents to pass.
What Is HR 36?
HR 36 would allow voters to decide if cannabis should be able to be legally cultivated in our state for medicinal purposes. Specifically, HR 36 requests the General Assembly to allow the following to be regulated by law:
The production and sale of marijuana for medical use
For all or some of both the net revenue derived from both taxes paid on the sale of medical marijuana and the fees paid to produce cannabis to go toward a fund to support drug treatment programs
If HR 36 passes, Georgia residents will see a question on their 2018 ballots asking whether the growth and distribution of cannabis should be allowed in the state for medicinal purposes. But getting the resolution through legislature will be difficult — it needs two-thirds approval in each of the General Assembly’s chambers. This is why vocalizing your support as a resident of the state is crucial.
What Is HB 645?
HB 645 goes hand-in-hand with HR 36. The bill would grant licenses to cultivators in the state to grow, process and distribute medical marijuana oil that contains THC. The state already allows the sale of CBD oil, which is the compound in marijuana responsible for its pain-relieving properties. If HB 645 passes, oils with low THC contents, the psychoactive element in cannabis, would also be permitted.
The bill requests the General Assembly to allow:
The regulation of lawful possession or control of specific amounts of low THC oil
The licensing for growing marijuana for the purpose of creating, processing and distributing low THC oil
The creation of criteria that must be bet in order to obtain cultivation and production licenses
The provision for postsecondary educational institutions in the state to bid on production facility licenses
The creation of other rules and regulations for related matters
The repeal of conflicting laws
Cannabis oil with THC content has many benefits as opposed to its CBD counterpart. Even though THC is the element in marijuana that makes the user feel “high,” it has medicinal benefits, as well, that aren’t found in CBD.
Patients with various debilitating or chronic conditions can use THC oil to:
Reduce inflammation — the compound has 20 times the anti-inflammatory power of aspirin and twice that of hydrocortisone
Reduce the amyloid plaques in the brain that cause Alzhiemer’s
Reduce levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in glioma (brain cancer) cells, offering great promise for the treatment of brain cancer
Decrease resistance in the respiratory airway and increase airflow to the lungs
Reduce spasms during seizures
Preserve the function of the nervous system
Prevent or delay cell damage
The Future of Marijuana in Georgia — and Beyond
The negative connotations Americans used to have about cannabis are changing, slowly but surely. With increasingly more states opting to legalize medical marijuana, Georgia is no longer in the minority.
Even though marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug in the eyes of the federal government, national officials will eventually be hard-pressed to come up with a better plan for cannabis law reform as more states choose to acknowledge the healing properties of medical cannabis.
How You Can Get Involved
The best way for Georgia residents to get involved with this process is by getting in contact with their legislators. Georgia state representative Allen Peake reached out to MarijuanaDoctors.com with the following call to action:
“We are asking all Georgia residents to contact their local state Representative and Senator and ask them to support HR 36, a ballot initiative that would allow voters to decide if marijuana would be allowed to be cultivated in our state for medicinal purposes only. We are also asking for support for HB 645, which would grant licenses to allow the growing, processing and distribution of medical cannabis oil in our state.”
At MarijuanaDoctors.com, we believe in the medicinal power of cannabis and encourage our readers to make sure their voices are heard during this critical time for medical marijuana reform. If you’re a citizen of Georgia, find your legislators and contact them about why you believe in HR 36 and HB 645.