Medical Cannabis Laws in Georgia
How to Obtain Medical Marijuana (Cannabis Oil)
Georgia House Bill 1 (HB 1) (Haleigh’s Hope Act), which was signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal on April 16, 2015, created the Low THC Oil registry program. Patients and families (in case of children) who register with the state can possess up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil. The intent of the law is to protect qualified patients and families (in case of children) from criminal prosecution for possessing low (<5%) THC oil.
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In April 2019, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed House (HB) 324, an update to Haleigh’s Hope Act, into law. The updated law allows for a) limited in-state production of low-THC (less than 5%) oil by approved suppliers, and b) pharmacies and potentially other retail establishments to apply for a dispensing licensing.
What disease states are covered by Georgia’s medical marijuana law?
- Cancer at end stage or experiencing wasting illness
- Seizure disorders related to diagnosis of epilepsy or trauma related head injury
- ALS – Lou Gehrig’s disease (severe or end stage)
- Parkinson’s disease (severe or end stage)
- Multiple sclerosis (severe or end stage)
- Sickle cell disease (severe or end stage)
- Crohn’s disease
- Mitochondrial disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Epidermolysis bullosa
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Tourette’s syndrome
- Patients in hospice care
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Intractable pain
How do I obtain medical marijuana in Georgia?
To obtain medical marijuana in Georgia, you must apply for Low THC Registry card. To get this card, the physician who is treating the patient submits the two forms, waiver form (patient and physician sign) and physician certification form.
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Who is eligible for Low THC Registry card?
- An adult with one of the eligible diseases who has been resident of Georgia for at least one year.
- A legal guardian of an adult with one of the eligible diseases who has been resident of Georgia for at least one year.
- Parents or legal guardians of minor child who has one of the eligible diseases, and has been a resident for at least one year, or was born in Georgia and is under one year of age.
Where do I go to get my Low THC Registry card?
A representative from Department of Public Health’s Vital Records will contact the patient to determine closest of the 18 select Public Health Offices across state to pick up card.
How much does the Low THC Registry card cost?
The fee is $25 per card. The fee is due when card is picked up.
How long is the card valid?
The card is valid for two years from the date card is issued.
Now that the bill is passed, how long before I can find low THC oil in Georgia?
The timeline for having low THC oil is dependent upon formation of the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission. This commission will develop rules and regulations and approve both wholesale producer and dispensing licenses in Georgia.
Where can I purchase medical cannabis products? Can my pharmacist obtain it?
Pharmacists are unable obtain low THC oil at this time, however the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission may purchase and transport low THC oil to Georgia for use by registered patients.
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Will we have dispensaries?
The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission will approve applications for dispensing licenses to pharmacies and other retail establishments.
For more information, visit the State of Georgia’s Department of Public Health Low THC Oil Registry Page.
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Low THC Oil – FAQ for Doctors
Georgia’s medical marijuana law allows certain qualified persons to legally possess up to 20 fluid ounces of “low THC oil,” which is derived from the marijuana plant. It authorizes the Georgia Department of Public Health to issue a “Low THC Oil Registry Card” to qualified persons, which will prove that they are authorized to have the oil and protect them from arrest.
Who is eligible for the “Low THC Oil Registry Card”?
There are three categories of persons who may apply for the card:
- an adult who has one or more of the diseases specified in the law;
- legal guardians of an adult who has one or more of the diseases specified in the law;
- parents or legal guardians of a minor child who has one or more of the diseases specified in the law.
What conditions or diseases are covered by the law?
The law lists the following conditions and diseases which qualify for the Low THC Oil Registry:
- Cancer, when such diagnosis is end stage or the treatment produces related wasting illness or recalcitrant nausea and vomiting
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, when such diagnosis is severe or end stage
- Seizure disorders related to diagnosis of epilepsy or trauma related head injuries
- Multiple sclerosis, when such diagnosis is severe or end stage
- Crohn’s disease
- Mitochondrial disease
- Parkinson’s disease, when such diagnosis is severe or end stage
- Sickle cell disease, when such diagnosis is severe or end stage
- Tourette’s syndrome, when such syndrome is diagnosed as severe
- Autism spectrum disorder, when (a) patient is 18 years of age or more, or (b) patient is less than 18 years of age and diagnosed with severe autism
- Epidermolysis bullosa
- Alzheimer’s disease, when such disease is severe or end stage
- AIDS when such syndrome is severe or end stage
- Peripheral neuropathy, when symptoms are severe or end stage
- Patient is in hospice program, either as inpatient or outpatient
- Intractable pain
- Post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from direct exposure to or witnessing of a trauma for a patient who is at least 18 years of age
How can I help someone obtain a Low THC Oil Registry Card?
First, you must have a doctor-patient relationship with someone that you determine to have one or more of the diseases specified in the law. Next, you will need to fill out a waiver form and certification form and have the patient, parent or legal guardian countersign. Patients or caregivers may bring you partially filled out documents or you may choose to provide them with blank forms. Keep the original waiver form for your files. Finally, you or your staff will enter the information on the certification form into the Georgia Low THC Oil Registry portal. You may choose to retain a hardcopy of the certification form if you wish, but all of the information will be maintained in the online registry and that is considered to be the official record. For more information on entering information into the portal, visit our Online Portal FAQ.
Am I required to certify an eligible patient?
No. The decision whether to certify a patient is eligible for the Low THC Oil Registry is left entirely to your judgment. The bill does not authorize physicians to prescribe marijuana for medical use. You are merely asked to determine whether their patient meets the law’s criteria to use low THC oil.
Will I be prosecuted by Georgia or federal law enforcement for registering patients?
No. The registration process has been established by Georgia law and it does not violate any state or federal laws.
Will I lose my medical license for registering patients?
No. In fact, the Georgia Code 16-12-231 provides protection from arrest, prosecution, or disciplinary action from professional licensing boards for physicians who certify patients to the Low THC Oil Registry.
Is my registering a patient the equivalent of writing them a prescription for low THC oil?
No. The act of registering a patient is merely a certification that you have an established relationship with the patient, have examined them and determined they have one or more of the medical conditions set forth in the law. In fact, the certification form approved by the Georgia Composite Medical Board specifically states that it is not a prescription.
How does Georgia’s law compare to laws in other states which have adopted medical marijuana?
Georgia’s law is much more limited than some other states’ medical marijuana laws. For example, it does not legalize the sale or possession of marijuana in leaf form and it does not authorize the production or sale of food products infused with low THC oil or the ingestion of low THC oil through vapor. It does not authorize physicians to prescribe marijuana for medical use. It is intended solely to protect qualified persons from criminal prosecution for possessing low THC oil for medicinal purposes.
How does a patient get low THC oil?
Under House Bill 324, the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission, which is administratively assigned to the Secretary of State’s Office, will oversee the growing, manufacturing, and dispensing of low THC oil in Georgia. The Georgia Department of Public Health does not prescribe or dispense low THC oil.