You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

Compromise reached to expand Georgia’s medical marijuana law

Lawmakers reached a compromise Thursday over how to expand Georgia’s medical marijuana law, clearing a pathway for legislation to pass as soon as next week.

The agreement over Senate Bill 16 would add six conditions eligible for treatment with a limited form of cannabis oil allowed in Georgia to include Alzheimer’s disease, AIDS, autism, epidermolysis bullosa, peripheral neuropathy and Tourette’s syndrome. It would additionally allow use of the oil for patients in hospice care, according to both state Sen. Ben Watson, R-Savannah, and state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon.

It would remove the state’s one-year residency requirement. It would change now-quarterly reporting requirements for doctors overseeing patients using the oil to twice a year. And it would add a 45-day reciprocity window for people who come to Georgia from another state. They would be covered by Georgia’s law as 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 allowed here.

“It’s not everything I would have wanted,” said Peake, who authored the bill two years ago legalizing medical marijuana in Georgia and has advocated for in-state cultivation. “But there are a lot of folks who will potentially benefit. So I’m grateful to the Senate for coming to an agreement.”

Importantly for Peake and expansion advocates, the agreement would keep the maximum allowable THC percentage of the oil at 5 percent.

THC is the component in marijuana that makes its users high. The Senate initially proposed dropping the limit to 3 percent, something lawmakers said was a precaution despite no reported problems with the higher percentage from state public health officials and law enforcement agencies. Officials said last month that more than 1,300 patients have qualified for the medical marijuana registry, with nearly 300 doctors actively monitoring their use of the cannabis oil that is allowed here

“I’m good with it,” said Watson, SB 16’s sponsor. That bill, in addition to its proposal to lower the allowable THC, originally would have only added autism to the state’s list of conditions and illnesses eligible for treatment with the oil. “It’s been a long process. We’re in agreement, and I look forward to the House passing it and the Senate agreeing.”

A House committee is expected to take up the proposed compromise Friday. Passage would set up the bill for a floor vote by next week.

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, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Georgia Politics

Handel cracks Georgia GOP ‘glass ceiling’
Handel cracks Georgia GOP ‘glass ceiling’

It might not have seemed that way, but the scene at a stuffed Roswell restaurant on the eve of last week’s runoff was a quietly remarkable one. It was the night before the 6th Congressional District vote, and Gov. Nathan Deal was campaigning for a former opponent his staff once described as a spout of “unhinged blather.” Sprinkled...
A new health care debate, Donald Trump, and a spike in breast cancer

Just in time for the renewed, fast-tempo debate over health care in Washington, public health researchers at Georgia State University have produced a pair of studies that help underline just what’s at stake. The more provocative of the two papers has intriguing national implications: In large swaths of the United States, swing areas that handed...
Georgians: Fix health care prices, stop partisanship
Georgians: Fix health care prices, stop partisanship

After the U.S. Senate finally revealed its proposed federal health care bill, advocates revved up their rhetoric with extreme positions, loud cheers and denunciations. “INJUSTICE!” blared the handmade sign of a protester Friday outside U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s office. The Senate’s bill “is morally repugnant,” said...
Will Georgia’s 6th District do this all again in 2018?
Will Georgia’s 6th District do this all again in 2018?

Despite initial relief among Georgia’s 6th District residents that the barrage of campaign ads has come to an end, the reprieve might not last too long. “Now we know what New Hampshire looks like,” said Chip Lake, a GOP consultant based in Georgia. The question is, with 2018 just around the corner, will this year’s astronomical...
Trump signs law making it easier to fire bad VA employees
Trump signs law making it easier to fire bad VA employees

President Donald Trump signed a bill into law Friday that would expedite the process for top officials to fire problematic employees at the long-troubled U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The aim of the accountability legislation is to make it easier to root out the bad apples who have helped contribute to the cascade of scandals at the VA, harming...
More Stories