Gov. Nathan Deal today signed HB 1, legislation that permits the use of medical cannabis oil to treat certain conditions. The law took effect immediately upon Deal’s signature. Deal signed an executive order last month instructing state agencies, physicians and law enforcement officials to prepare for the law’s enactment.
“For the families enduring separation and patients suffering pain, the wait is finally over,” Deal said. “I applaud the efforts of the Department of Public Health and the Georgia Composite Medical Board to see that this legislation is implemented safely and in a timely manner. Now, Georgia children and their families may return home while continuing to receive much-needed care. Patients such as Haleigh Cox, for whom this bill is named, and others suffering from debilitating conditions can now receive the treatment they need, in the place where they belong: Georgia.”
Haleigh’s Hope Act, as the law is known, was named for Haleigh Cox, a five-year-old girl from Forsyth, Ga., who suffers from an uncontrollable seizure disorder. For the past year, Cox and her mother, Janea, have been temporarily living in Colorado in order to treat Haleigh’s seizures with cannabis oil, which was already legal for medicinal purposes in Colorado.
Patients with the following conditions are eligible for medical cannabis oil under this law:
- Cancer (Severe or end stage)
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- seizure disorder
- multiple sclerosis
- Crohn’s disease
- mitochondrial disease
- Parkinson’s and sickle cell
State health officials say doctors will have to sign off and submit required forms.
Approved Georgia patients will be allowed to possess 20 ounces of the low THC oil at any given time. THC is the chemical in marijuana that causes a high.
The Department of Public Health will be working with law enforcement to make sure the system is secure and that officers know what to look for when they come across a patient possessing the oil.
— Lori Geary (@LoriGearyWSB) April 16, 2015
“Today, HB 1 officially became Georgia state law, and we can now begin the highly anticipated process of bringing our medical refugees back home to Georgia,” Rep. Allen Peake said. “I am extremely grateful to Gov. Deal for his continued leadership and for making this historic and monumental day happen. The true heroes, without which none of this would have been possible, are the families who fought courageously and tirelessly to see this legislation through to its passage.”
Moving forward, forms created by the Georgia Medical Composite Board may be obtained through the Department of Public Health (DPH). Once certified by the appropriate health care provider, patients meeting the law’s criteria will be provided with documentation allowing for possession of low-THC cannabis oil. DPH has already issued temporary cards to seven individuals and anticipates the permanent statewide system will be online in the coming weeks.
The law also codified the ongoing clinical trials at Georgia Regents University, which the governor set in motion last year through an executive order. Finally, the Commission on Medical Cannabis, created by HB 1, includes designated members and appointments to be filled by Deal. The commission will provide recommendations for consideration during the next legislative session. The appointment process is under way.