May 10, 2018, Georgia
After the months of deliberations in the state legislature, the expansion bill for Georgia’s MMJ program has finally become a part of the legislation with the approval of Governor Nathan Deal. The bill would add Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and intractable pain to the qualifying conditions that can be legally treated with administration of medical cannabis.
The overall progress of cannabis reforms in Georgia is encouraging. In 2017, the state’s capital decriminalized the possession of cannabis following a referendum. Now, residents of Atlanta can’t get a prison time for the minor possession of cannabis. Penalties for cannabis possession have also been significantly reduced. No one in Atlanta can be fined for more than $75 dollars for cannabis possession.
After Atlanta’s decriminalization of cannabis, Georgians legislators have presented pertinent bills in the bicameral assembly to widen the cover of decriminalization for the whole state.
The bill introduced in the House of Representatives has more lenient provisions regarding decriminalization. It entails the possession of up to two ounces as a misdemeanor instead of punishable offense. On the other hand, the Senate bill has proposed to decriminalize the possession of half an ounce and to decrease the amount of penalties.
Only time will tell which bill will become a part of the state law. It should also be kept in mind that decriminalization is more about tolerance and less about legalization. Purchasing, retailing, and cultivating marijuana will remain an illegal and punishable felony even after the approval of these bills.
On the matter of medical cannabis, Georgia is constantly moving forward as well. The state commenced its medical marijuana program three years ago. Last year, the lawmaker doubled the number of qualifying conditions. This expansion of qualifying lists increased the efficacy and reach of Georgia’s medical marijuana program. AIDS, autism, Alzheimer’s, autoimmune diseases were some of the significant medical conditions added to the qualifying list. As of now, over 4,000 Georgians have been registered with the state’s MMJ program.
The recently-passed MMJ expansion bill faced strong opposition in both chambers of the legislature, particularly in the Senate. The Senate president is known for its anti-cannabis stance. He isn’t even in favor of its therapeutic use.
Amid all this development, Georgia’s MMJ program is still far from perfect. Patients can’t consume medical cannabis through smoking. Moreover, the law only permits the remedial use of cannabis oils with low traces of THC. Also, MMJ patients can’t extract their own oils because the sell and farming of cannabis plants are still illegal in the state. It is an important issue and can be witnessed in many states where the administrations have legalized a product but haven’t put any conscious effort to make it legally available for users.
Even though it’s a fanciful scenario but some advocates are hopeful that the Peach State might also legalize recreational cannabis in near future because an incentive to increase the state income is indeed a big reason to treat cannabis like any other commercial commodity. However, skeptics are of the belief that it would be impossible to have adult-use cannabis legalization until Georgia is a red state.
Marijuana stays in the news, and Alice is always ready to keep us updated. A world traveler and lover of freedom, Alice knows what is going on, no matter where she roams. She specializes in marijuana legalization stories across the globe, with up to date... [read more]