Georgia is notorious for being behind – and for refusing to catch up – when it comes to medical marijuana laws, especially in comparison to the other 28 states who allow a much broader use of the plant for medicinal purposes. In 2015, Georgia passed a law that allowed the use of cannabis oil with less than 5% THC for a number of medical conditions – including seizure conditions like epilepsy, as well as cancer, Parkinson’s and a few other conditions.
So far this year there has been a lot of hopeful talk about expanding the law – but the bill that passed through the Senate is not quite what patients and activists had in mind. Senate Bill 16, which passed this week in a 41-12 vote, would add autism to the list of qualifying conditions for cannabis oil, but it would also restrict the THC content of the oil even further from 5% to 3%. This would potentially cause families who are already using a CBD oil with a slightly higher THC content to be excluded or forced to try a lower strength oil and hope for the same result.
“I would say changing anything in the existing law and going backwards is unacceptable in the eyes of the parents,” said Dale Jackson, who uses cannabis oil to treat the autism of his eight-year-old son Colin.
Lawmakers backing the bill say that the bill will bring the state more in line with other states that have CBD-only laws. However, these laws often don’t help very many patients. Many doctors and advocates will tell you that while CBD can be helpful, most patients respond better to cannabis oil with a slightly higher THC content – even when it’s still not enough to give off the psychoactive effects one expects from THC.
This bill will now go over to the House for review – where two other medical marijuana bills are still waiting to be considered by the full House, hopefully to be sent to the Senate. Unfortunately, this bill seems to have strong support, and with the addition of autism to the list of qualifying conditions that is understandable to a degree. Restricting the THC limit even further is really unnecessary, but some lawmakers fear higher THC content would lead to expanded medicinal use, which would lead to more recreational use. Out of all the bills to be heard by Georgia lawmakers, this one is probably the most likely so far to become law.