Deep South State Of Georgia Passes Its First Pro-Marijuana Law

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by Luke Sumpter

on April 20, 2015

Last week Georgia governor Nathan Deal signed a bill that will legalize the medicinal use of cannabis oil within the state, making Georgia the first state within America’s Deep South to make such a pro-marijuana political maneuver.

Although the sale of medical marijuana is still illegal in Georgia, the new law will allow the administration of low-THC cannabis oils to patients suffering from a specific array of illnesses.

This list, as reported by SWB-TV, includes the following ailments:

  • End stage and treatment resistant Cancers
  • Severe or end stage Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Seizure Disorders resulting from epilepsy or head trauma injuries
  • Severe or end stage Multiple Sclerosis
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Severe or end stage Parkinson’s disease
  • Sever or end stage Sickle Cell Disease

The Department of Public Health has claimed that as many of 500,000 Georgians could qualify under these terms. Approved patients will be allowed to possess up to 20 ounces of low THC oil at any given moment.

While many rightly criticize low-THC/CBD-only laws like this one for falling short and failing to aid patients who would medically benefit from THC intake, the door to full legalization in this conservative, dark red state has at least been cracked open. Now, over half a million people could potentially have access to a medicine that might eliminate painful symptoms and may put some on the road to recovery.

The bill, as reported by the Huffington Post, was inspired and catalyzed by 5-year old Haleigh Cox, who is suffering from a condition known as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, causing her to experience seizures that cannot be tamed by conventional medicines. Credit for the new bill’s progress is primarily given to those involved in a two year skirmish involving lawmakers, medical health officials and medical marijuana advocates, which came to an close with the passing of Haleigh’s Hope Act.

Due to Georgia’s former cannabis laws, the Cox family had to seek refuge in Colorado in order to attain the cannabis-based medicine that their daughter was in crucial need of receiving, according to CNN reports. Haleigh’s mother, Janea Cox, was quoted as saying it’s a blessing “to be able to come back home, and with Haleigh’s medicine. It’s done wonders for her—going from 200-plus seizures a day and on her deathbed to a smiling, happy girl who says words now and looks us in the eye and lets us know she’s in there. Colorado has been good to us, but Georgia’s home. Georgia’s definitely home.”

As far as the new Georgian laws are concerned, they are still far behind much of the country. Since it is still currently illegal to grow or purchase cannabis in the state of Georgia, patients seeking the medicine will have to import it from states like Colorado, navigating the threat of federal law enforcement as they do so. Meanwhile, more than half of all Americans think cannabis should be legalized and regulated similarly to alcohol, and four states have passed adult use marijuana bills that reflect this sentiment. In addition, 23 states and Washington, D.C. have passed much more rational medical marijuana bills than Georgia’s, many of which allow patients to grow and use whole cannabis plants, and to try any variety of cannabis they find helpful.

That said, WSB-TV reported that State Representative Allen Peake intends to return with another bill next year that would potentially allow patients to grow their own medical marijuana within the state of Georgia.
For a breakdown of which states have medical marijuana laws, CBD-only laws, and/or some variety of marijuana legislation, view this map on NORML.org.