What Citizens Need to Know about Georgia’s Medical Marijuana Law
What does the new law do?
Georgia’s new medical marijuana law allows certain qualified persons to legally possess up to 20 fluid ounces of “low THC oil,” which is derived from the marijuana plant. It authorizes the Georgia Department of Public Health to issue a “Low THC Oil Registry Card” to qualified persons, which will prove that they are authorized to have the oil and protect them from arrest.
How does the new law compare to laws in other states which have adopted medical marijuana?
Georgia’s law is much more limited than some other states’ medical marijuana laws. For example, it does not legalize the sale or possession of marijuana in leaf form, and it does not authorize retail stores to sell marijuana or products made from the marijuana plant. It does not authorize physicians to prescribe marijuana for medical use. It is intended solely to protect qualified persons from criminal prosecution for possessing low THC oil for medicinal purposes.
Who is eligible for the new “Low THC Oil Registry Card”?
There are three categories of persons who may apply for the card:
(1) an adult who has one or more of the eight diseases specified in the new law, and who has been a resident of Georgia for at least one year;
(2) legal guardians of an adult who has one of the eight diseases specified in the new law, and who has been a resident of Georgia for at least one year; and
(3) parents or legal guardians of a minor child who has one or more of the eight diseases specified in the new law, and has been a resident for at least one year or was born in Georgia and is under one year of age.
What diseases are covered by the law?
The law lists eight diseases which qualify for the Low THC Oil Registry:
(1) cancer, when the disease has reached end stage, or the treatment produces related wasting illness, recalcitrant nausea and vomiting;
(2) seizure disorders related to diagnosis of epilepsy or trauma related head injuries;
(3) severe or end stage amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease);
(4) severe or end stage multiple sclerosis,
(5) severe or end stage Parkinson's disease;
(6) severe or end stage sickle cell disease;
(7) Crohn's disease; and
(8) mitochondrial disease.
What if more than one person is caring for the child or adult?
If there is more than one parent or legal guardian, then each may apply for a separate card.
How do I apply for the Low THC Registry Card?
The application is actually sent in by the physician who is treating the patient. There are two forms. First, there is a waiver form (found HERE) which must be signed by both the applicant and the physician. Second, there is a physician certification form (found HERE). The physician will keep the original waiver and certification form in the patient’s medical records. You may request a copy. The physician will electronically submit the information from these forms to the Georgia Department of Public Health, which will review the information and create a Low THC Oil Registry Card for qualified applicants.
Where will I get my Low THC Registry Card? Will it be mailed to me?
You will be notified when your card has been printed. A representative from DPH’s Office of Vital Records will contact you to establish which of 18 select Public Health Offices across the state is most convenient for you to pick up your card. A representative from that Public Health Office will then notify you when your card is available for pick-up.
How much does the card cost? How do I pay for it?
The fee for a Low THC Registry Card is $25 per new card, which is the standard fee used by the Office of Vital Records. You will be asked to pay for your card when you pick it up from the closest of the 18 Public Health Offices approved to distribute them.
How long is the card valid?
The card will be valid for two years from the date it is issued. The expiration date will be printed on the front of the card. After that time, you will need to again consult with your physician and request that they update and confirm your information into the registry. Please plan to allow 15 business days to process your information, print your card and have it ready for pick-up from the closest of the 18 Public Health Offices approved to distribute them to the address you list as your residence in the registry.
What happens if I lose my card?
If you lose your card, please contact the State Office of Vital Records at 404-679-4702. If your card has not expired, your physician will be contacted to confirm you are still under their care. Once confirmed, a replacement card will be provided to you. Please plan to allow 15 business days to process your information, print your card and have it ready for pick-up at your closest Public Health Office. Replacement cards will cost $25.
The information on my card is wrong or outdated. How do I correct it?
If the information on your card is wrong or outdated, please contact the State Office of Vital Records at 404-679-4702. Vital Records will verify the information provided by your physician on your order. If the information on the order is incorrect, you will need to contact your physician and ask that they update the information. At that time a new card will be issued.
Can I alter or laminate my card?
You may laminate your card, so long as the security features are still visible. You may not alter it in any other way.
Where can I buy low THC oil?
The new law does not address how low THC oil is made, purchased or shipped. The law only creates a procedure to ensure qualified persons will be protected from prosecution for having it in their possession. The Georgia Department of Public Health does not prescribe or dispense low THC oil.
Is marijuana now legal? Where can I buy it?
No. The law only authorizes the legal possession of up to 20 fluid ounces of low THC oil by qualified persons. It does not make the sale or possession of all types of marijuana legal in Georgia. Possession of any form of marijuana by an unauthorized person is and remains a violation of state and federal law.
Can I now sell medical marijuana?
No. The sale of any form of marijuana is and remains a violation of state and federal law.