Medical marijuana commission talks growing, distributing cannabis oil in-state

ATLANTA, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – State lawmakers are facing a challenge after they passed the medical marijuana law this year.

Right now it is illegal to grow or sell cannabis oil in Georgia. Patients risk breaking federal law if they travel across state lines with it. A commission is tackling this issue of providing safe access to Georgians.

The parents of three-year-old Jax Griffis say their son is proof cannabis oil works.

“It has raised his alertness, the way he’s engaging us, his eye contact. All of his therapists have noticed a difference in the last two and a half weeks and the decrease in seizures,” Misty Griffis, Jax’s mother said.

The toddler suffers from epilepsy and used to have dozens of seizures a day. The family signed up for the state’s cannabis oil registry this month. Jax started using the oil two and a half weeks ago. His parents say the child has shown huge improvements in his health.

“You get desperate and so this is giving us a little bit of hope,” Misty Griffis said.

State Representative Allen Peake wants to give hope to all Georgians. He and the Georgia Commission on Medical Cannabis are tasked with figuring out the best structure for growing and selling cannabis oil in the state. The commission met Wednesday and heard from several manufacturers.

“We need to make sure that we have a very tightly restricted and regulated delivery system to make sure that we provide a safe product to our citizens,” Peake said. “This is why we need to learn what is the best practices from other states.”

Warner Robins native Jason Cranford is the founder of the Flowering Hope Foundation, a non-profit organization in Colorado that makes cannabis oil. He says lawmakers’ concerns about a potential black market if the oil is produced and sold in Georgia is unnecessary, as long as the product is regulated like any other controlled substance.

“I’ve been operating this type of business for five years and if its set up properly that’s impossible to do because we have tracking systems, we have RIFD tags on each plant, plants have to be in the room that the computer says they’re in, surprise inspections eliminate that,” Cranford said.

He adds Georgia needs to come up with a plan quickly so these families who want access to cannabis oil don’t wind up behind bars.

“When they’re bringing it back to Georgia they’re actually breaking federal law and technically they’re federal drug traffickers and drug smugglers,” Cranford said.

The Griffis family says it is willing to do whatever it takes so their son can use this life saving oil.

“Is it worth the chance? Obviously I’ll do it, anything for my son. I’d rather not take that chance. If it’s here in Georgia then we could just drive,” Jeremy Griffis, Jax’s father said.

The commission must make a recommendation to the governor and general assembly about an in-state growing and selling system by the end of the year.

The Georgia Department of Public Health also gave an update on the state’s cannabis oil registry. The agency says 197 patients have registered and it has issued 222 cards. There are also 166 physicians who signed up to approve anyone who suffers from one of the eight qualifying medical conditions.

The department says majority of the cards are issued to people who suffer from seizures, cancer, and ALS. It adds 45% of the patients who can legally use cannabis oil are between the ages of zero and 17.

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