Gov. Brian Kemp is poised to expand Georgia’s medicinal marijuana industry by signing HB 324 into law this week.

The state legalized the use of cannabis oil with low THC content back in 2015, but a loophole prevented cultivation and distribution. This has made medicinal cannabis difficult to source in Georgia, but HB 324 will close these loopholes and usher in a new era of small in-state growers and licensed marijuana retailers.

The bill was sent to the governor on Friday and he is expected to sign it into law at the Capitol on Wednesday, Apr. 17. He has well documented reservations about it, but he knows there is a lot of legislative support for a law change.

It will be welcomed by campaigners like Shannon Cloud, whose 13-year-old daughter suffers from Davet Syndrome and needs cannabis oil to treat it. Parents like Cloud are currently forced to travel out of state to buy the oil, or purchase cannabis on the black market and manufacture it themselves.

HB 324 will put a stop to that as it provides for “the production, manufacturing, and dispensing of low THC oil” in Georgia. The authors were keen to point out that they have no intention of legalizing recreational marijuana any time soon, and that this bill is simply designed to provide patients with the medicine they need.

Georgia plans to create a state commission tasked with regulating the industry, and it will award licenses to universities and private companies that could produce CBD oil. The bill will also allow the state to license pharmacies and dispensaries that can retail cannabis oil with low THC levels to medical marijuana patients.

Georgians can apply for a Low THC Oil Registry Card if they or their children suffer from any one of a range of conditions and diseases. They include cancer, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, sickle cell disease, Tourette’s syndrome, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, AIDS, and peripheral neuropathy.

Symptoms must be severe or end-stage for some of these conditions, while patients in a hospice program also qualify. “We have people who are suffering and asking for this,” said chief sponsor Rep. Micah Gravley. “It’s all about the patients.”

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