Parents: Allow medical marijuana to be manufactured in Georgia

Georgia for the first time this year approved a limited medical marijuana law to help some of the state’s most dire patients — many of them children. It only allows families to possess cannabis oil, making no attempt to address the oil’s manufacture or how to buy or obtain it.

Now, parents and advocates want lawmakers to go one step further: Allow growers to harvest and distribute cannabis oil in-state.

The newly formed Georgians for Freedom in Healthcare vowed Tuesday to lobby full force at the state Capitol once lawmakers convene again in January —echoing advocacy efforts from years past that finally won passage of Georgia’s landmark law.

Led by parents Shannon and Blaine Cloud, whose 10-year-old daughter, Alaina, has a severe form of epilepsy that causes uncontrollable seizures and developmental delays, the group said many families — while thankful for the law’s passage — now struggle with how to purchase the oil and get it home.

For some, that includes trips to other states including Colorado — where companies manufacture certain strains of the oil most effective for their children. While members declined to go into specifics, they said they’re left with a decision of whether to sneak the oil on board carry-on luggage, stuff it into their checked suitcase or to try to ship it home.

However, the sale of any form of marijuana is and remains a violation of state and federal law — as does taking it across state lines. Essentially, state lawmakers this year only created a way for some people to be protected from prosecution for having a limited form of the oil in their possession while within the Peach State’s borders.

Georgia for the first time this year formally approved the use of a limited form of cannabis oil to treat severe forms of eight illnesses including cancer, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. More than 200 families have since qualified for the state’s new medical marijuana registry, allowing them to use the oil in treatment.

Three companies currently ship low-dose cannabis oil into Georgia — something families have discovered on their own, with no help from the state. Those companies, however, only manufacture a limited number of strains.

The Georgia Commission on Medical Cannabis — which is scheduled to meet Wednesday — is now studying whether to recommend the law go further but has not yet reached a conclusion.

The commission has already heard from advocates encouraging it to develop guidelines related to cultivation and production in Georgia.