On Friday, March 27, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed an executive order directing state agencies to prepare for a law that would legalize cannabis oil. Earlier that week, the House voted 160-1 to approve a Senate compromise, and since then the only roadblock was Governor Deal signing the bill, which he said he’d do after the session so that it wouldn’t conflict with other pieces of legislation.
Well, that day has finally come! After a long and arduous journey, Governor Deal signed House Bill 1, dubbed the Haleigh’s Hope Act, to make it officially legal for qualified medical patients to access medicinal cannabis oil in the state of Georgia.
“It’s been an emotional and difficult journey,” said State Representative Allen Peake (R-Macon), referring to four children who had campaigned for cannabis oil legalization and have since lost the battle with their disorders before the law was passed.
As the governor signed the bill into law this Thursday, he, too, was teary-eyed at the emotional toll this bill has taken. “For the families enduring separation and patient suffering pain, the wait is finally over,” Governor Deal said. “This has certainly touched my heart. And I’m pleased today that we’re going to make a difference.” He was, of course, speaking of the “medical refugees” who have been forced to leave their home state of Georgia and travel to Colorado in order to access cannabis oil for treatment.
House Bill 1 allows for eight different qualifying medical conditions:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Multiple sclerosis
- Crohn’s disease
- Seizure disorders
- Mitochondrial disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Sickle cell anemia
The state Department of Public Health has already begun implementation of the Haleigh’s Hope Act by issuing temporary cards for eligible patients to possess up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil.
One of the reasons the process was delayed so much was due to a disagreement about how the cannabis oil would be procured. Originally, the bill had laid out the framework for cultivation and production in-state, but that has been amended so that there will not be cultivation in Georgia. It’s still uncertain how the patients will access the medicine aside from crossing state lines and bringing it back to Georgia, but Rep. Peake addressed this issue in a statement, saying that he believes the risk of arrest is low.
We’re not out of the woods yet, but this is a huge step forward. Our heartfelt thanks go out to Representative Peake and Governor Deal for making good on their promise to help these families.