ATLANTA, GA (WALB) - Governor Nathan Deal signed House Bill 1, which permits the use of cannabis oil to treat certain medical conditions Thursday morning.
Deal, joined by Rep. Allen Peake, Sen. Butch Miller, and Dr. J. Patrick O'Neal, Director of Health Protection for the Georgia Department of Public Health, signed the bill into law in the North Wing of the Capital building.
"For the families enduring separation and patients suffering pain, the wait is finally over," Gov. Deal said at a news conference. "I applaud the efforts of the Department of Public Health and the Georgia Composite Medical Board to see that this legislation is implemented safely and in a timely manner."
The signing comes after a two-year legislative battle, but in the end, house lawmakers agreed, in a vote of 160-1.
Deal signed an executive order in March instructing state agencies, physicians and law enforcement officials to prepare for the law's enactment.
Patients with the following conditions are eligible for medical cannabis oil under this law: cancer, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), seizure disorder, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, mitochondrial disease, Parkinson's and sickle cell.
A previous House version included fibromyalgia in the permissible conditions. That condition was deleted by the Senate.
"Patients such as Haleigh Cox, for whom this bill is named, and others suffering from debilitating conditions can now receive the treatment they need, in the place where they belong: Georgia," Deal added.
Moving forward, forms created by the Georgia Medical Composite Board may be obtained through the Department of Public Health (DPH).
Once certified by the appropriate health care provider, patients meeting the law's criteria will be provided with documentation allowing for possession of low-THC cannabis oil.
DPH has already issued temporary cards to seven individuals and anticipates the permanent statewide system will be online in the coming weeks.