Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed a bill on April 17, entitled Georgia’s Hope Act (HB 324), allowing in-state production and sale of marijuana oil for medical use. Before this bill, Georgia only allowed citizens with a narrow list of specific medical conditions to possess cannabis oil with less than five percent THC, but those patients had to cross state lines or purchase the oil by mail. Often the process of buying the oil was prohibitive and the patients could not obtain the oil, even if they had permission to use or possess it. The current count of patients on the registry allowed to own low-THC oil is less than 10,000. Some believe this is a low number compared to the number of eligible citizens, and that many people have not bothered to register because obtaining the drug is too difficult. The number of registrants is predicted to rise once the oil can be purchased in-state.
The bill is not an open door for producers, however. Georgia will convene a seven-member board to oversee the program, and the state will only grant up to six growing licenses to private companies. The bill also designates growing licenses for the University of Georgia and Fort Valley State University. Georgia legislators made efforts to be inclusive by requiring that medical marijuana producers should include at least 20 percent “minority, women, and veteran owned business” as licensees and partners of any business licensed to cultivate.
In addition to the lift on the ban of production of cannabis oil, Georgia’s Hope Act allows pharmacists to sell the medical cannabis oil to authorized patients if the pharmacy is licensed by the State Pharmacy Board.
Kemp went to great lengths to emphasize that this bill is not part of a “slippery slope” toward allowing recreational use of marijuana in Georgia.