High Times for Medical Marijuana in Georgia

cannabis-card-300x192Georgia has been historically resistant to any kind of marijuana legalization. However, recent laws could make it easier to obtain low THC cannabis oil for medical use, in response to a steadily growing demand in Georgia. At this writing, over 14,000 Georgians have permission to purchase low THC cannabis products – that is a 50 percent increase from last year. Although medical marijuana oil is becoming more prevalent in Georgia, registering to possess it can be tricky, and there are legal issues you need to be aware of. Contact the Don Turner Legal Team today if you have any questions about how to register for a medical marijuana card or the status of Georgia’s medical marijuana laws.

Hemp vs. Medical Marijuana – What’s the Difference?

Georgia’s Hemp Farming Act has made it legal to purchase products containing cannabidiol or CBD, a chemical which has a number of purported health effects, as long as they contain less than 3% tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical responsible for the “high” caused by smoking cannabis. Medical marijuana is sometimes confused with hemp since they have similar health benefits. However, they are not interchangeable, and it is important to know the difference.

There are several crucial differences between hemp and medical cannabis. Hemp contains little to no THC and hemp-derived products must contain less than 3% THC to be legal for sale in Georgia. Medical cannabis, meanwhile, can contain a maximum of 5% THC. While hemp-derived CBD products can come in a variety of forms, as of this writing, the only legally obtainable type of medical cannabis is low THC oil. Any other form of cannabis containing more than 3% THC is still illegal to possess.

You cannot freely purchase medical marijuana oil in Georgia. Instead, you will need to register with the Georgia Department of Public health and obtain a Low THC Registration Card. You must have this card on your person in order to legally possess medical marijuana oil in Georgia. Your THC oil must contain no more than 5% THC, must contain an equal amount of CBD, and must be stored in a pharmaceutical container with a label clearly stating the percentage of THC it contains.

If you are caught with less than 20 fluid ounces of low THC oil, and you do not have a Georgia Low THC Registry Card, you will find yourself facing misdemeanor possession charges and up to a year in prison. It is also illegal to possess more than 20 fluid ounces of low THC oil or sell it yourself, even if you have a registry card. Disregard these laws, and you could face felony charges. That means up to 10 years in prison for possession or up to 30 for unlawfully distributing low THC oil.

How Can I Apply for a Low THC Registry Card?

It is very simple to obtain a Low THC Registry Card and purchase medical marijuana oil… in theory. In practice, although Georgia citizens have been able to register to possess low THC oil since 2015, there are still no licensed dispensaries in the state. This means that Georgia citizens have needed to “get creative” to purchase their medical cannabis oil, even if this means running afoul of the law. However, planned legislature may soon allow certain licensed companies in Georgia to grow low-THC cannabis in secure greenhouses, allowing those who need medical marijuana oil to legally purchase it.

Additionally, many doctors in Georgia, especially those outside Atlanta are unfamiliar with cannabis-based medication. This can make it difficult to find a physician who can help you obtain a low THC oil registry card. If you are able to find a doctor who is willing to help you and feels that you would benefit from medical marijuana oil, you will need to undergo the following process:

  • You will be required to complete two forms – a waiver signed by you and your doctor and a physician certification form. You should request a copy of this form for your medical records.
  • Your doctor will then submit your information to the Georgia Department of Public Health, which will then review your application.
  • If you are approved, you will receive a low THC oil registry card, which you can pick up from one of Georgia’s 20 Public Health Offices once it is ready. You will need to pay 25 dollars for your card.

Be aware that you can only be approved for medical marijuana oil if you have a medical condition on a pre-approved list. As a general rule, conditions which are chronic or terminal in nature can qualify for treatment with low THC oil. Qualifying conditions include end stage cancer, Crohn’s disease, severe Tourette’s syndrome, and seizure disorders related to epilepsy or head injuries. You can read a full list of qualifying conditions on the Georgia Department of Public Health’s website.

Georgia’s medical cannabis laws are more restrictive than other states, which can cause problems for those who need low THC oil to treat their chronic conditions. However, there may soon come a day when those who need medical marijuana oil can legally purchase it in the state of Georgia. Until this happens, remember that there are no places where you can legally purchase low THC oil in Georgia as of this writing. Additionally, remember that Georgia does not honor out of state THC registry cards.

If you have any questions or concerns about medical marijuana laws or are looking to legally register to possess low THC oil, contact our law office. Our attorneys are standing by to help and can help you understand what your legal rights are when it comes to lawfully obtaining medical marijuana.

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