As of July 1, several new conditions are eligible for treatment with cannabis oil, under Georgia’s expanded program allowing the use of a medicine derived from marijuana.
Anyone under hospice care, whether inpatient or outpatient, is eligible to be treated the cannabidiol oil, as long as a doctor signs the paperwork for the patient to receive a registration card from the state.
Other new conditions include severe autism in children and any form of autism in adults, the skin disease epidermolysis bullosa and severe or end-state Alzheimer’s, AIDs, peripheral neuropathy and Tourette’s syndrome.
Senate Bill 16, which expanded the state’s medical cannabis law, took effect July 1. Other conditions that were already approved are seizure disorders, Crohn’s disease, mitochondrial disease, cancer when it is severe or end-stage or when cancer treatment creates wasting illness or severe nausea or vomiting, and severe or end-stage Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Sickle cell disease.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis was formerly called Lou Gehrig’s Disease, named for a baseball player who had ALS.
To receive a card allowing the possession and use of the oil, patients must have a doctor who will fill out the certification paperwork.
The oil can contain up to 5 percent THC, the primary ingredient responsible for the marijuana high. The primary active ingredient in the oil is cannabidiol, another compound found in marijuana. Under the law, the oil must be in a pharmaceutical container that states the percentage of THC.
Though the possession and use of the oil is legal for those with a registration card, the law doesn’t address how someone is to acquire the oil. The oil is not legally available in the state of Georgia, though some companies in Colorado will ship certain low-THC varieties.
Earlier versions of an expansion bill contained several additional conditions including chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and autoimmune disease. Those conditions were in a version that passed the Georgia House of Representatives, but that bill was a no-go in the state Senate.
Cowetan Stefanie Anderson has chronic pain and fibromyalgia and has been following the expansion actions in Georgia.
She was disappointed that chronic pain was removed. “I’ve never had any interest in ‘drugs.’ But I’m so sick of feeling this awful, even on prescription meds,” she said.
Other Coweta women said they wished the state would allow the oil for the pain of arthritis and endometriosis, as well as bipolar disease, anxiety and depression.
Anderson is hopeful that fibromyalgia or chronic pain will one day be added to the state’s list of approved conditions. “I want to see if I can get relief,” she said.