Lawmakers file 'Georgia's Hope Act' to improve THC oil access

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Two Georgia lawmakers filed legislation Thursday that would pave the way for in-state cultivation of marijuana for the production of low THC oil.

Under current state law, the approximately 8,400 patients on the state's Low THC Oil registry are allowed to possess up to 20 ounces of the oil in Georgia, but they must break federal law to bring it into the state.

"The problem is there is nowhere in the state to get it," said Rep. Micah Gravley, R-Douglasville, one of the bill's primary sponsors. 

"Georgia's Hope Act" would set up an in-state program to license and oversee the production of cannabis oil.  The state would create an 11-member oversight board through the Department of Public Health. The legislation would also allow for five large companies and five small companies to be licensed to grow cannabis and manufacture the oil and require third-party lab testing of the products for safety.

"These are safe environments, heavily regulated environments because what we're making is a medicine," explained Rep. Gravley.

Dozens of supporters came to the state Capitol Thursday to show their support for the bill, including Katie Harrison, whose son Hawk uses CBD oil to help control his seizures.

"He's gone two weeks without a seizure.  That's the longest he's gone his whole life and I think that made this year's fight even more real for us," Harrison said. 

While she and her family have found ways to travel to get Hawk the CBD oil he needs, she said others are not as fortunate.

"We have the means to do that, but there are so many families who don't and that's why we're here and that's why we'll continue fighting," said Harrison.

If lawmakers approve the bill, the first licenses would be approved by January 1, 2020.