An Overview of Haleigh’s Hope Act: Georgia’s “Low-THC Oil” Medical Marijuana Law

 

The Georgia General Assembly approved, and Gov. Nathan Deal signed, a law allowing registered patients and their caregivers to legally possess up to 20 fluid ounces of low-THC oil with their doctors’ recommendations.

Unfortunately, this law does not provide sick and vulnerable patients with safe, legal access to the medicine. Instead, it seems registered patients are expected to smuggle the oil back from other states in which medical marijuana products can be legally produced.

This law also allows the University System of Georgia to develop a low-THC oil clinical research program in compliance with federal regulations.

Because this law applies only to a very specific type of medical marijuana and does not provide a realistic means of access to the medicine, MPP does not consider Georgia a medical marijuana state.

What type of marijuana does the law apply to?

The law only applies to low-THC oil, which is defined as an oil containing no more than five percent THC and at least an equal amount of CBD, though it may contain more CBD.

Who qualifies for this limited program?

Patients with the following medical conditions may register to possess low-THC oil:

– cancer

– ALS

– seizure disorders

– multiple sclerosis

– Crohn’s disease

– mitochondrial disease

– Parkinson’s disease

– sickle cell disease

Who can authorize patients to use low THC oil?

Only a physician licensed to practice medicine in Georgia may certify a patient to use low-THC oil. The physician must have a doctor-patient relationship with the patient, diagnose the patient with a qualifying medical condition, and be treating the individual for the specific condition requiring treatment.

Can minors with seizure disorders use low-THC oil under this law?

Yes. There is no age limit to becoming a registered patient.

Do qualifying patients need to obtain an ID card?

Yes. In order to enjoy the legal protections of this law, patients must be registered with the Department of Public Health and have their registration card in their possession. In addition, patients must ensure that their medicine is in a pharmaceutical container labeled by the manufacturer indicating the percentage of THC.

Can registered patients or their caregivers grow their own non-psychoactive strains of marijuana for purposes of producing low-THC oil?

No. Marijuana cultivation is still strictly illegal in Georgia.

Does this law do anything else?

Yes. It authorizes the University System of Georgia to develop a clinical research program in compliance with federal regulations. Only individuals under 18 years old with medication-resistant epilepsy could participate. The participants must also have been born in Georgia or have been a resident of the state for at least 24 months prior to participation.

When does this law take effect?

The law took effect when it was signed by the governor on April 16, 2015.