In wake of current controversy, the topic of medical marijuana has made its way to the state of Georgia. We have already seen some previous legislation begin to take effect in Georgia. The city of Atlanta has decriminalized possession of marijuana under a certain amount. Moreover, the state of Georgia has legalized medical marijuana or cannabis oil use for those individuals that have a medical condition that would be improved from the use of THC oil. Georgia representatives have also begun to discuss the legalization to in-state cultivation and distribution programs.
However, certain programs, like ones described in HB 324, only benefit the rich and do not provide an equal opportunity to all Georgia citizens. HB 324, commonly known as Georgia’s Hope Act of 2019, discusses a plan for the private sale of medical marijuana to approved patients. One of the biggest problems with this proposed bill is that it only benefits the wealthy in Georgia. The bill specifies that it will allow for small and large companies to grow, process, and manufacture medical cannabis oil in Georgia, and it will only issue ten total licenses to do so. Although this may sound great on paper, the reality is that HB 324 unfairly favors the wealthy and denies the less fortunate any chance to grow their own medical treatments. Some of the extreme requirements for licensure in the bill include a minimum of ten million dollars in capital for a Class 1 license and a minimum of one million dollars for a Class 2 license. There is also a non-refundable application fee ranging from $12,500 to $50,000, along with a large additional license fee and an annual license renewal fee. These prices create a situation where only the top one percent can benefit from the legalization of self-growing. This in turn allows these companies to have a monopoly on the market for something that individuals need for medical purposes. We have seen this problem in our health care system time and time again, and fortunately, there will soon be a better alternative to HB 324.
Representative Spencer Frye plans on drafting a bill next legislative session that would benefit a broader horizon of individuals suffering from medical conditions. This bill would allow for all individuals who are legally authorized to possess and use low THC oil, to produce THC oil for their own medical usage through the personal cultivation of marijuana plants. Specifically, Rep. Frye’s bill would allow personal cultivation of up to two self-grown plants on the registered individual’s own lawful property, which shall not be visible or accessible by the public. By doing this, individuals can have access to the THC oils that they need for their medical condition for a more responsible price. The bill would also set parameters that require individuals to have their registration card issued by the Department of Public Health in their possession. Lastly, the bill would set out reasonable consequences and punishments, equivalent to those laid out for unlawful possession of THC oil, for not complying with the rules and regulations set forth by this bill. Unlike HB 324, Representative Frye has a solution that looks out for the well-being of all Georgians by putting the health of its citizens before the profits of its corporations.