Patients who are eligible for medical marijuana can now legally receive it in Georgia.
The Georgia Department of Public Health unveiled its Low THC Oil Registry on Tuesday. It’s a secure database of people authorized to have cannabinoid oil.
“Today marks a milestone for the state of Georgia and the Department of Public Health,” Georgia DPH Commissioner Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald said in a statement. “Implementing HB 1 has been no small task, but individuals suffering from conditions listed in the law now have another treatment option available to them.”
HB 1, also known as the Haleigh’s Hope Act, allows certain patients to possess and use medical marijuana. It is named for Haleigh Cox, a Forsyth girl suffering from an uncontrollable seizure disorder. Haleigh and her mother Janea moved to Colorado so the little girl could have access to medical marijuana, which brought her number of daily seizures from more than 200 to about three. Thanks to HB 1, they are now back in Georgia.
The Low THC Oil Registry permits individuals to legally have up to 20 fluid ounces of cannabinoid oil.
The basic steps for obtaining a card, according to the Georgia Department of Health, are:
1) Patients and caregivers of patients who believe they may be eligible should consult with their physician about the possibility of obtaining a card allowing them to possess 20 fluid ounces of low THC oil within the state of Georgia.
2) If approved by the physician, the patient or patient’s caregivers’ information will be entered into DPH’s secure “Low THC Oil Registry” and a card(s) will be issued.
3) Patients and caregivers will be notified when the cards are ready for pickup (within 15 business days) from one of several public health offices geographically spread around the state.
The cards are $25 each and are valid for two years from the date issued. It can take up to 15 days to receive the card. Once approved, the doctor must report back to the state every three months for each patient.
Patients seeking verification must have lived in Georgia for at least one calendar year, or be less than 1 year old, and be suffering from one of eight conditions:
-Sickle cell disease
Fitzgerald said there are a number of safeguards in place to prevent illegal use of the card. One of those safeguards is the card itself.
“It’s exactly like a driver’s license,” Fitzgerald said. “It has the same kind of hologram safety features built in, there’s a definite serial number.”
There’s also a 24-hour phone number for law enforcement to call to make sure the cardholder is actually on the state registry.
Georgia law does not touch on distribution or cultivation of medical marijuana in the state. The commission is charged with making recommendations for that process and will present them by December 2015