On April 17, Brain Kemp, Georgia’s Governor signed into law a bill which allows cultivation of cannabis for production and sales of CBD or cannabidiol in the Peach state. The law comes as a breakthrough for patients who had been previously seeking alternative methods to drugs and prescribed medications for a much stronger and effective treatment.
Kemp, a generally conservative Republican, said he was moved after he spoke with parents whose children depended on cannabis oil for their health. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Kemp said, “All they simply want is to be able to help their kids get well. We’re ensuring these families can purchase what works for their loved ones without creating a slippery slope that undermines our values.”
The new law will allow legal production, distribution and possession of cannabis oil for medicinal purposes. It will serve as a base for a limited cannabis industry with a total of 9 acres of indoor cultivation space meant for growing cannabis state wide.
The cannabidiol derived from these cultivated areas will be regulated and verified for consumer use. It will contain low levels of THC, a psychoactive substance present in cannabis which is responsible for the ‘high’ that people get while smoking weed and high levels of CBD.
Cannabidiol is an anti-inflammatory and non-psychoactive component which helps treat stress, anxiety, depression, reduces inflammation, pain, swelling and also helps cure severe diseases like epilepsy and cancer.
The legal CBD oil will be sold to legally registered users in the system established by the 2015 law – 9,500 stores so far. Ailments such as PTSD, Parkinson’s disease and cancer are approved by the program, however, herbaceous cannabis with high THC levels in smoking or vaping form will still be illegal.
A seven member board, dubbed the Georgia Access to Medical cannabis commission will be made to oversee the nascent industry and maintain the regulatory reforms in place. Commissioners will be appointed by Gov. Kemp, Lt.Gov. Geoff Duncan and the speaker of the state House of Representatives, David Ralston.
Licenses will be awarded competitively, with only two “Class 1” licenses available to cultivate cannabis for medicinal use on an industrial scale out of six total cultivation licenses. Dispensaries selling these products will also need to be licensed under the law. The timeline for the end product – cannabinoid oil – to reach the consumers is predicted to be an year.
But the program is expected to expand soon, with the new Commission empowered to make suggestions to the legislature for additional medical conditions that can be effectively treated with the help of cannabis oil.
Patients are of utmost priority for Kemp
Kemp signed the bill into law after it passed the state Senate 34 to 20, with bipartisan support from the voters. Few conservative concerns were raised in the Senate for the use of cannabis and how it could possibly lead to a negative impact, especially on the younger generation.
However, Kemp and supportive lawmakers stressed on the unfairness of the 2015 law, which pushed patients and their families to purchase cannabis oil for medical treatments through the mail or a drive to other states.
The paper also quoted Katie Harrison of Gainesville, mother of 6-year-old son who uses CBD oil to control his seizures. She said the new law is a “huge deal” for patients and their dear ones. She further added that it won’t be illegal to buy medicines anymore and how CBD oil is the only effective treatment that has been working for so many patients so far.
Breaking the Federal Stranglehold on Cannabis Research
The new law will also permit cannabis research at two designated universities: Fort Valley State University and the University of Georgia. According to the Macon Telegraph, the state will empower these schools with federal licenses to conduct research on cannabis oil and its potential uses.
Since the 1960s, the University of Mississippi has been the only educational institution which was federally approved for conducting research on cannabis. With gaining popularity and real life cases of improved health and possible benefits from the drug, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced in August 2016 it would support the expansion of the research opportunity to other qualified institutions around the country.