On Friday, Feb. 24, parents gathered at the Georgia State Capitol in support of House Bill 65 (HB 65), which expands the scope of conditions legally to be treated by medical marijuana.
The Senate approve the bill last Tuesday, but with the expansion of treated conditions, the new piece of legislation also cuts down the levels of THC which can be legally used by patients from 5 percent to 3 percent.
THC oil has been suggested as the only sign of hope for Nichole Place’s, whose dad was recently diagnosed with cancer but because it’s illegal, acquiring it would be difficult and dangerous for him.
“My dad was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer two days after Christmas,” she said. “Only one of his doctors had suggested he try marijuana, although he couldn’t give him a medical card for it. His doctor said that it would help with the pain, nausea, and would help him eat.”
Place said people had suggested to her dad a THC oil called phoenix tears, which has in the past been proven to be absorbed by cancer cells, causing them to “eat themselves”.
“The videos and articles that we have seen also say that it can help smaller things like joint pain and migraines,” she said.
But her dad wouldn’t be able to get the treatment in Georgia, which Place said is completely unfair. While current legislation allows for patients to receive up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil, it’s illegal to buy or sell it in the state, making it almost unobtainable.
“I feel sort of betrayed by my government because there is something out there that could work without the side effects that chemo has and they are keeping it from really sick people. I’m angry. I’m angry at the cancer and I’m angry that medical marijuana could help him and the government won’t give it to him,” she said.
Another bill, aiming to reduce the penalties of recreational use, is making its way through the Senate.
The new bill, introduced by a group of democratic senators and headed by Sen. Harold V. Jones II, seeks to lessen the punishments for being caught with marijuana.
Senate Bill 105 (SB105) is different from HB65 because instead of medical marijuana, this bill targets recreational use.
“It shall be unlawful for any person to possess or have under his or her control two ounces or less of marijuana,” the bill states. Current law makes it unlawful for anyone to carry one ounce or less.
The bill states that if the aggregate weight one if caught with is half an ounce or less, they shall be punished with a fine of $300 or less, and if it weighs anywhere between half an ounce to two ounces, individuals will be “punished by imprisonment for a period not to exceed 12 months, 6 months of community service, or a maximum fine of $1,000.”
Georgia Care Project director James Bell aided Sen. Jones to work towards the success and implementation of this bill because he believes it will decrease the amount of people that become felons just for possessing marijuana.
“By moving the felony amount from one ounce to two ounces, we prevent thousands of Georgians from becoming felons,” Bell said in a statement to the Georgia Care Project. “Allowing for a $300 fine for small amounts will eliminate the risk of prison time for many more citizens.”
2015, April: House Bill 1, the Haleigh’s Hope Act, Which will allow qualified patients to legally possess up to 20 fluid ounces of low-THC cannabis oils with their doctors’ recommendations. –Signed into law
2016, Feb: House Bill 1046, which regulates to possession of marijuana, so as to provide that possession of one ounce or less of marijuana is not punishable by imprisonment. — Signed into law
2017, Jan: House Resolution 36: proposing an amendment to the Constitution to authorize the General Assembly to provide by a law for the regulation of the production of cannabis and sale of medical cannabis to certain individuals for medical usage as provided by law. –Not Decided on