The State of Medical Marijuana in Georgia
2020 Grade: F
2019-2020 Improvements and Recommendations
In 2020, the USDA approved Georgia’s hemp production program, allowing in-state cultivation of hemp that will increase the supply and ultimately reduce the price of CBD oil for Georgia patients. In the meantime, eligible Georgia patients remain without an in-state source to the low-THC and high-CBD cannabis products authorized by the state, making safe and legal access extremely difficult. In addition to getting the in-state production, distribution and retail of authorized medical products off of the ground, AS encourages Georgia to greatly improve its program by strengthening product safety standards, increasing the forms of medical cannabis and medical cannabis products available to patients, and removing arbitrary limits on products’ THC percentage. Georgia organized no emergency COVID provisions to maintain or expand medical cannabis access.
In 2015, the Georgia legislature passed HB 1, which created a patient ID card registry and established a list of eight qualifying conditions for which patients could legally possess and use low-THC medical cannabis products. The law places a 5 percent cap on THC, requires products to have at least a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC and only permits patients to possess up to 20 ounces. The law did not provide for in-state production or access, but it did create the Georgia Medical Cannabis Commission, which was tasked with investigating other state programs to organize comprehensive medical cannabis legislation for the 2016 session. In December 2015 the Commission voted against authorizing in-state production of cannabis.
In May of 2017, SB 16 added six more qualifying conditions to the program and allowed patients in hospice care to possess oil. In 2018, the state added PTSD and intractable pain to its list of qualifying conditions. In the spring of 2019 Georgia finally passed legislation (HB 324) that allows in-state cultivation and distribution of low-THC medical cannabis products.
Surveyed patients again report being frustrated with the current medical cannabis program in Georgia because the program is currently limited to low-THC oil only and that eligibility for the program is extremely limited.