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Georgia governor signs bill to legalize medical marijuana

By
Amy R. Connolly

ATLANTA, April 16 (UPI) -- Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, signed a bill Thursday legalizing medical marijuana in the state, but questions still remain about how patients who desperately need the drug will get it.

The bill, which took effect immediately, makes it legal for people who suffer from end-stage cancer and other debilitating diseases to possess up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil with a physician's approval and a state permit. But it's still illegal to cultivate, manufacture and sell marijuana in Georgia, which means patients would have to trek to other states where growing and cultivating is legal, such as Colorado. Since the federal government still outlaws possession of marijuana, crossing state lines could pose significant problems.

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"It will still be illegal to sell it," Daniel Macris, CEO of Halcyon Organics, which bills itself as Atlanta's first medical marijuana company, told WXIA. "We could face mandatory minimums for trafficking and manufacturing, so we're not gonna do that in this state."

The new law allows the use of cannabis oil for eight medical conditions that are severe or during their end stage:

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-- Cancer -- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease) -- Multiple Sclerosis -- Crohn's Disease -- Mitochondrial Disease -- Parkinson's Disease -- Sickle Cell Disease -- Seizure disorders

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The law requires the oil contain no more than five percent THC, the high-inducing chemical found in marijuana, and legalizes clinical trials to further study the drug.

While the prickly question of how patients will access the drug is yet to be worked out, many families of sick children are saying they are happy to see the new law.

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Janea Cox, who moved to Colorado so her 5-year-old daughter Haleigh could have access to medical marijuana for relief of her unrelenting seizures, said she's glad to move back home.

"Colorado has been good to us, but Georgia's home. Georgia's definitely home," she said. "This means the world to us,"

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