About HB 722
Although many local families are using cannabis oil to treat medical conditions, it is still not legal to manufacture the oil in Georgia.
State Rep. Allen Peake introduced HB 722 last month, which would allow for in-state manufacturing. As currently written, the bill would allow two-to-six licensed manufacturers to grow, possess and dispense the oil. Many local families said the change would allow them to legally and safely receive the oil.
“It would allow safety from prosecution for something that has proven to save lives,” said Janel McDaniel.
The bill would also remove the THC limit. The CBD-only oil isn’t effective for some people, including Tripp Oliver, who takes THCA.
“THCA is also a low-THC oil,” said Laura Oliver. “It’s just another one of more than 100 cannabinoid compounds found in the plant.”
The current law caps THC levels at 5 percent and requires the oil to have a 1:1 ratio of CBD and THC. But local families think their children can benefit from different strains not currently legal in the state.
“This would broaden access to the whole plant, more than CBD, and would allow us safe access to this plant so we would not be breaking federal law to get this medicine,” said Kimberly Skriba. “I do feel Ryan would benefit from more THC and with the limits now, we can’t see how much more we can get his seizures under control. We are limited with the CBD-only bill.”
If the THC cap is removed, physicians and pharmacies would make the decision on which oil to prescribe.
The bill also adds several qualifying conditions, including autism, Tourette’s, PTSD and Alzheimer’s.
Certification by a physician and consultation with a pharmacist would still be required.
Smoking would still be prohibited. Most local families administer the medicine by placing a drop of oil under the tongue or inside the cheek. Some administer it through a feeding tube, when necessary.
Local state representatives are backing the bill as it is currently written. Rep. Dan Gasaway said he thinks the bill is a necessary next step.
“This year’s legislation is a necessary next step to make last year’s work practical for Georgia families,” said Gasaway. “Right now, the oil cannot be manufactured in Georgia and bringing it across state lines is a violation of federal law. We need to have a regulated supply manufactured in Georgia.”
Rep. Gasaway said there are 10 families in his district that are traveling to other states to get the oil for their children.
Hearings are ongoing for the bill and Gasaway expects the bill will pass through the House of Representatives. But the bill does face opposition from the state sheriff’s association and the governor’s office.
Rep. Terry England, a sponsor of the bill, said he thinks a compromise can be reached with the governor.
But if the bill doesn’t pass through this year, local families don’t plan to give up.
“Of course we’ll continue to fight,” said Katie Harrison. “We know we have a big battle this year.”