Georgia is on the verge of legalizing medical marijuana after the state assembly passed a bill that would allow for the in-state sale and production of the drug for medicinal purposes.
Cody Hall, a spokesman for Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, said Wednesday morning he’ll sign the bill into law.
The legislation, HB 324, closes loopholes created from a 2015 act that legalized the use of low-THC cannabis oil for certain medical conditions but did not allow for the growing, selling or possession of the oil in the state.
The new bill would allow for the “production, manufacturing, and dispensing” as well as the possession of low-THC cannabis oil in Georgia. It would also set up a state commission to oversee the industry and license universities and private companies that could produce the oil. The bill would also allow the state to license pharmacies and private companies that would sell low-THC cannabis oil to medical marijuana patients.
The bill does not legalize the use of recreational marijuana in the state, nor does it allow smoking or consuming marijuana.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Kemp helped broker a deal between the Senate and House to guard against illegal distribution, which eventually led to the bill’s passage.
“Over the years, I’ve met with children who are battling chronic, debilitating diseases. I’ve heard from parents who are struggling with access and losing hope,” Kemp said, according to the paper. “This compromise legislation is carefully crafted to provide access to medical cannabis oil to those in need. This is simply the right thing to do.”
The state currently allows those suffering from serious conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, cancer and Parkinson’s disease to use and possess low-THC cannabis oil.
Should it adopt the new regulations, Georgia would join a growing number of states that have passed similar laws setting up medical marijuana programs. So far, 33 states and the District of Columbia have approved the use of medical marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.