Expansion of Georgia’s medical marijuana law wins final passage

Bottles of cannabis oil that Janea Cox uses to treat her daughter Haleigh, 7, at their home in Forsyth. Haleigh suffers from Lennox Gastaux Syndrome, a form of severe epilepsy. The Georgia Legislature voted Thursday to expand the list of conditions that can be treated with the oil. BITA HONARVAR/SPECIAL
Bottles of cannabis oil that Janea Cox uses to treat her daughter Haleigh, 7, at their home in Forsyth. Haleigh suffers from Lennox Gastaux Syndrome, a form of severe epilepsy. The Georgia Legislature voted Thursday to expand the list of conditions that can be treated with the oil. BITA HONARVAR/SPECIAL

Credit: Bita Honarvar

Credit: Bita Honarvar

An expansion of Georgia's medical marijuana law won final passage Thursday from the state Senate, sending the measure to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature.

House and Senate lawmakers brokered the compromise earlier this month, after the House backed off much broader expansion plans and the Senate no longer pursued a proposal that would have reduced the maximum allowable percentage of THC in the oil (it’s currently 5 percent in Georgia). THC is the component in marijuana that makes its users high.

Senate Bill 16 now would add six conditions eligible for treatment with a limited form of cannabis oil allowed in Georgia: Alzheimer's disease, AIDS, autism, epidermolysis bullosa, peripheral neuropathy and Tourette's syndrome.

Additionally, patients in hospice care would also be able to possess the oil. Other changes include a 45-day reciprocity window for people who come to Georgia from another state, as long as they have a medical marijuana registration card issued by another state, a condition that’s allowed to be treated in Georgia and a form of the oil that is permitted here.

Under Georgia’s 2015 law, patients and, in the case of children, families who register with the state are allowed to possess up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil to treat severe forms of eight specific illnesses, including cancer, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease.

"Today we're going to provide more access to Georgians with very specific illnesses," said state Sen. Matt Brass, R-Newnan. "And we'll provide doctors more treatment options for patients."

Staff writer David Wickert contributed to this article.

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