Georgia residents suffering with major illnesses like multiple sclerosis, cancer or AIDS wasting recently got some good news. State lawmakers officially signed a bill that allows for the legal use of cannabis oil.
Recognizing that the active ingredients in marijuana can alleviate many of the painful and debilitating side effects caused by these diseases, officials in the state believe this move will help citizens live a better quality of life without opening the flood gates of abuse.
The Progression of Medical Marijuana
While 22 states and the District of Columbia currently allow the use of medical marijuana, the drug remains illegal throughout the remaining states. That leaves a large portion of the country out in the cold and treading on thin legal ice if caught with marijuana.
Despite the legal ramifications, many people have chosen to leave their families, traveling to legal states in order to gain possession of the drug. Keep in mind, however, Georgia did not legalize all forms of marijuana – only cannabis oil.
Georgia is now the 12th state in the country to permit possession of cannabis oil. State Gov. Nathan Deal signed the bill into law earlier this month, which allows qualified users to possess up to 20 ounces of a special cannabis oil that contains a low level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical in marijuana that produces a high.
Issues Going Forward
In Georgia, cannabis oil will be made available to those suffering from illnesses that include cancer, sickle cell anemia, Parkinson's and Chron's disease. Patients can now complete a screening process that will give them documentation indicating they're allowed to possess cannabis oil.
"For the families enduring separation and the patients suffering pain, the wait is finally over," said Governor Deal.
The new law went into effect immediately, however there are several issues with its language. Georgia still does not permit smokable forms of marijuana or oils with higher levels of THC. It's also still illegal to grow marijuana in Georgia, which means pharmaceutical companies will have to ship the oil to the state.
The Future for THC
Allen St. Pierre, executive director of pro-marijuana group NORML, believes the law is contradictory because medical marijuana patients may need to purchase the oil from other states, but it's illegal under state and federal law to bring the drug across state lines.
Seven other states currently have legislation on the books to legalize medical marijuana in some form. Earlier this month, Tennessee also passed a bill to make cannabis oil legal and only needs a signature from Gov. Bill Haslam to become law.
The Tennessee bill is strikingly similar to Georgia's newly enacted legislation. It was created specifically to help children suffering from uncontrollable seizures and allows restricted use of the oil under doctor's orders. Almost all of the THC will be extracted and removed from the oils considered “legal” in Tennessee.
While the path towards legal recreational marijuana across the country will likely be a longer and more laborious process, it could soon be a reality that medical marijuana is made legal at the federal level.
Additional Reading: THC Edibles: Don't Let Appearances Fool You
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