Georgia’s stance on medical cannabis is distinct and strictly regulated. Unlike many states where “medical marijuana” is a broader term encompassing various uses and forms, Georgia’s approach is more constrained. The state’s laws do not recognize “medical marijuana” in the typical sense; instead, they focus on the use of low THC oil for medical purposes. Possession, growth, and smoking of marijuana remain illegal and are subject to penalization with fines and imprisonment.
The legal framework governing medical cannabis in Georgia is overseen by the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission. This body is responsible for implementing the rules and regulations as per the Georgia Administrative Procedures Act. Their scope includes managing the licensing of in-state cultivation, production, manufacturing, and the sale of low-THC oil.
A key milestone in this regulatory journey was the passing of House Bill 324, known as “Georgia’s Hope Act,” on April 2, 2019. This act authorized the Medical Cannabis Commission to regulate the licensing and dispensing of low-THC oil to registered patients. The legislation emphasizes a strict control over the distribution of medical cannabis, limiting its use to specific medical conditions and registered patients.
Despite these advancements, Georgia’s law remains limited compared to other states’ medical marijuana laws. It does not legalize the sale or possession of marijuana in leaf form and does not authorize its retail distribution. Furthermore, the Low THC Oil Registry allows qualified persons to possess up to 20 fluid ounces of low THC oil, which is derived from the marijuana plant. However, possession of any form of marijuana by unauthorized persons remains illegal in Georgia.
In a significant development, the Constitutional Court of Georgia decriminalized the personal use of marijuana and other cannabis-based products on November 30, 2017. This decision recognized the right to use marijuana while also acknowledging its potential health risks. It did not, however, legalize the sale, distribution, or cultivation of marijuana.
Overall, Georgia’s approach to medical cannabis is characterized by its limited scope and strict regulatory framework, focusing primarily on low THC oil and its controlled distribution to registered patients.