State House Passes Medical Marijuana Manufacture Bill

Rep. Alan Powell (R-32) is one of the cosponsors of HB324

The Georgia House has passed a Medical Marijuana Oil bill that permits the oil to be sold in Georgia legally to registered patients who use it.

House Bill 324, called Georgia’s Hope Act, passed by a 123 to 40 vote.  Under the measure, the growing, manufacturing, testing and distribution of medical marijuana would become legal.

If passed into law, 60 dispensaries would be established around the state for patients to access prescribed medical marijuana oil.

One of co-sponsors of the House Bill 324 is State Representative Alan Powell of the 32nd District, which covers Franklin, Hart and Madison counties.  Powell said this latest bill adds to a previous bill passed in 2015 that legalized medical marijuana oil, but fell short of a crucial next step.

“Because of the federal laws, it could be prescribed to them they didn’t have access to it except through the black market or underground, which didn’t guarantee they got quality oil,” Powell explained. “So this is the next step to allow restrictive growing by a handful of companies or manufacturers, which will be strictly monitored and strictly regulated.”

Powell said a special board at the Georgia Department of Health would oversee and approve who would be allowed to grow the marijuana.

“There will be a 12-member board who will control who will get a license. They will have to prove financial stability, the ability to grow it, and in a secure environment. Law enforcement is heavily involved in this to ensure it’s all done on the up and up, where and what for,” he said.

According to a report in the Atlanta Journal Constitution initial licenses to grow or manufacture medical marijuana would start at $15,000 and go as high as $30,000.

The Bill now heads to the State Senate and Powell says he expects there will likely be some changes.

“This now has to go through the Senate and a lot may change, but one thing that won’t change is the strict security and strict protocol as far as the quality of the oil is concerned,” he said. “My last comments in the Well yesterday is the only thing worse than having a disease is having a loved-one who has a disease and not being able to help them.”

Opponents of the Bill fear it could lead to the outright legalization of marijuana in Georgia, but Powell said he doesn’t expect that to happen any time soon.

Even if it passes, recreational smoking of marijuana would still be illegal as would smoking or vaping medical marijuana oil.

If it passes in the Senate, the Bill will go to Governor Kemp’s desk for his signature.

Kemp has indicated he is open to research-based medical marijuana.