Gov. Deal signs medical marijuana expansion bill into law

News 12 NBC 26 News At 11 | Tuesday, May 9, 2017

UPDATE | 11:45 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) — More Georgia patients will have access to cannabis oil after Governor Nathan Deal signs a new law.

Senate Bill 16, which has gone back and forth in the State House and Senate, was approved after several months of deliberation. The bill adds these six new diagnoses to the list, including autism, AIDS, Alzheimer’s Syndrome, Tourette’s Syndrome, peripheral neuropathy and Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB).

Georgians with those conditions will now be able to use cannabis oil as treatment. But there’s a catch – it only applies to patients with severe or end of life conditions.

“He’s aware,” an excited Valerie McCormick says. “He’s much more aware than he ever has been.”

McCormick’s daily fight for her son Preston has gone on for years.

He has severe Autism Spectrum Disorder and has suffered seizures nearly all his life, spending most days in his wheelchair, in his bed or on the couch. But after three years of cannabis oil treatment, she says she’s seeing results and more of her son’s smiles than ever.

“He used to have 60 to 80 of these seizures per day,” McCormick says. “[The most recent] was his third one today. Now you tell me cannabis oil doesn’t work.”

The same treatment he’s received is now on its way for others like Preston after six diseases were approved by Governor Deal Tuesday afternoon.

“Autism being added to this bill is a complete and total game-changer,” McCormick says. “I’m very, very excited for everybody involved but I’m most excited about that just to see where that’s going to go.”

But this change won’t happen overnight.

The treatment is only allowed for patients with severe cases or at the end-of-life stages of their sickness. McCormick says doctors will also have to spend time coming around to the idea that the oil can be used as an effective treatment.

Georgia still doesn’t allow medical marijuana or cannabis oil to be produced in-state, meaning caregivers like McCormick still must travel out-of-state for that medication and bring it back home illegally.

“A parent or a person who’s suffering should not have to gamble their freedom to get medication. They’re not robbing people, they’re not stealing. They’re trying to treat themselves or treat their loved ones with a medication that actually works.”

Still, she says any step forward is a good step.

“The more that we learn about it and the more people actually see the results of it,” McCormick says, “we’re going to learn it’s not so taboo after all, you know, and it’s something we should have been healing ourselves with for years.”

This bill only allows patients and caregivers to hold up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil at one time, all at a 5 percent THC level. Any possession higher than that amount is still considered a felony, no matter who is in possession.

An Augusta Alzheimer’s Association spokeswoman says they’re already looking into clinical trials here and are strongly considering this as a real treatment.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) — Gov. Nathan Deal has signed Senate Bill 16 into a law.

Gov. Deal signed the measure to expand the state’s medical marijuana program on Tuesday.

Six conditions eligible for treatment with a limited form of cannabis oil allowed in Georgia include AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, epidermolysis bullosa, peripheral neuropathy and Tourette’s syndrome.

According to the bill, it also allows people in a hospice program, regardless of diagnosis, access to the oil that’s low in THC, the chemical responsible for the marijuana high.

Click here to read a copy of the bill.

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