Medical Marijuana in Georgia

The recreational use of marijuana and cannabis is illegal in Georgia as of this writing. In the city of Atlanta, the possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana is considered an infraction instead of a misdemeanor or felony. The use of marijuana for medical purposes is illegal, with no signs of it being legalized any time soon.

On the other hand, the medical use of cannabis oil with low THC content has been legal since 2015. Its use and distribution are closely controlled by the state and it can only be possessed by registered patients and their caregivers. The registered individuals can possess no more than eight fluid ounces of the oil at a time.

Let’s take a closer look at the status of medical marijuana in Georgia.

1980 Legalization

Back in 1980, the state of Georgia passed Mona Taft’s bill which made it legal for individuals diagnosed with cancer and glaucoma to use medical marijuana. The bill was passed with a sweeping 50-0 margin in the state senate and 156-8 in the state house. The bill laid the foundation of Georgia’s medical marijuana program. However, the program ended without one single patient getting the drug.

Georgia passed Mona Taft’s bill

Despite the efforts of legalization advocates and having the ability to reappoint the board, none of Georgia’s subsequent governors did so.

2015 Legalization

It would take another 35 years before medical cannabis became legal in Georgia once more. On April 16, 2015, CBD oil with low THC content became legal to use for medical purposes in the state. The bill is known as Haleigh’s Hope Act or HB 1.

According to the bill, only cannabis oil with less than 5% THC content is legal for medical use. On the other hand, medical marijuana remains illegal.

Initially, the bill allowed only patients diagnosed with a specified list of 8 diseases and conditions to use CBD oil. The original list included Lou Gehrig’s disease, end-stage multiple sclerosis, sickle cell disease, Chron’s disease, and Parkinson’s. Vomiting, seizures, and recalcitrant nausea were among the qualifying conditions for medical CBD oil.

In May 2017, the list was expanded to include peripheral neuropathy, AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, epidermolysis bullosa, autism, and Tourette’s syndrome in SB 16. Also, patients in hospice programs became eligible. In 2018, PTSD and intractable pain were added to the list in HB 65.

Registered patients and their caregivers (including the parents and legal guardians of registered patients under the age of 18) are allowed to possess CBD oil but not to purchase the oil or medical marijuana in Georgia. Also, it remains illegal for registered users to grow their own marijuana plants. As of this writing, the state of Georgia has no active dispensaries.


All patients and their designated caregivers must be registered and have valid Low THC Registry Cards to legally possess CBD oil. Unlike some states where patients and caregivers file their own applications, physicians submit the applications on their behalf in Georgia. Here’s how the application process works.

First, a potential cardholder must be examined by his or her physician and diagnosed with at least one condition or disease from the list.

The physician has to give a certification to the patient

After that, the physician has to give a certification to the patient.

Then, both the doctor and the patient sign the waiver form.

Finally, the physician files the application with the Georgia Department of Public Health in the patient’s name.

If the card is approved, the patient will be contacted by a representative from the Office of Vital Records about where they can pick up their ID. The office does not mail out the cards. A fee of $25 has to be paid upon picking up the card.

Once issued, the card is valid for two years. The renewal process is the same as the application process.

The applications usually take up to 15 working days to process and only complete applications will be taken into consideration. The users are allowed to laminate their Low THC Registry Cards. If a card gets damaged, it automatically becomes invalid. Also, if any of the info on the card becomes outdated, the cardholder has to update their information with the State Office of Vital Records.


While the medical use of CBD oil with less than 5% THC content is legal, marijuana remains illegal. The registered patients and their caregivers can possess up to 8 ounces of the oil but they are not allowed to buy it. Also, they are not allowed to grow their own marijuana plants.

Both patients and the caregivers must be registered for the right to possess the oil. However, instead of applying by themselves, authorized physicians must apply on their behalf. The cards are valid for 2 years.

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  1. What i do not understood is actually how states like Colorado and California legalize marijuana and states in the south don’t!

    • In recent years, laws have been created to allow Georgians to possess low-potency medical marijuana oil and to expand the eligible diagnoses. But it remains illegal to grow, process, buy, sell, or transport the substance in Georgia .

      • Thank you for this comment on the legal position for medical marijuana users in Georgia. Your comment points out the complex and contradictory aspects of the law in some states where it may be legal to possess low-potency medical marijuana oil, as a registered medical user, but marijuana is illegal in every other sense, presumably causing a possible legal conflict for those who possess THC or CBD oil for a valid prescribed medical use. We will check that the post looking at the law for Georgia is up to date (as we need to do for all the states) as state laws are in a state of challenge and change for cannabis across the country.

    • Reply March 28, 2019 at 5:21 am

      Current state law allows individuals with 16 specific conditions, including cancer, seizure disorders, and Parkinson’s disease, to possess marijuana oil.

    • Hi Ernest, Thanks for the comment. Every state has to pass its own laws for marijuana use, both for medical and recreational purposes. Some states are more progressive with pro-legalization citizens being more organized in lobbying their state house members and governor. Other states are conservative on the marijuana issues and are slow to follow the lead with legalization. The good news is that nation-wide there is a move toward removing restrictions on marijuana and criminalization. Lifting restrictions on medical use come first and the conservative states cannot ignore the latest medical research and opinion on the usefulness or cannabis for various medical conditions. Some states that are reluctant to move forward are allowing CBD oil (non-psychoactive) for treatment of medical issues like seizures. That’s a start. I think that the conservative states are also watching states such as California and Colorado to see what happens in those states with a more liberal approach, especially for recreational use and old perceptions of links with criminality, but I think that the enormous amount of tax being earned by Colorado on regulated recreational sales of marijuana, now exceeding those from alcohol, certainly has the attention of other states looking to bolster their budgets. In short, the trend is definitely moving towards legalization across all of the US, for medical use and increasingly for recreational users. Cheers!

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