Haleigh’s Hope Act and the Low THC Oil Registry

Haleigh’s Hope Act and Medical Low THC Oil: Frequently Asked Questions Answered

doctor-patient-examIn April 2015, Governor Nathan Deal signed Haleigh’s Hope Act into law in the State of Georgia, our state’s first meaningful step towards the legalization of medical marijuana. The legislation attempts to ease the suffering of Georgians suffering from one of eight different serious health conditions, including severe to end stage sickle cell disease by allowing them to legally purchase and use low THC oil, a form of medical marijuana.

While this is encouraging news for many sickle cell disease patients and the families and friends who love and care for them, a great many of them have lots of questions about the legislation as it is a little confusing. We have put together this FAQ to help clear up some of that confusion.

Just What Does the Haleigh’s Hope Act Allow For?

This act is not as broad as some of the measures that other states have enacted. The law in Georgia now allows a registered individual to legally obtain and possess up to 20 ounces of what is known as ‘Low THC Cannabis Oil’ – an oil derived from the marijuana plant. The law does not allow for the legal possession or use of any other type of marijuana such as smokable or edible products.

The law does not provide access or advice as to where a patient might obtain the oil but the government is responsible for issuing the Low THC Oil Registry Card required for legal possession.

How Do You Apply for a Low THC Oil Registry Card and Who is Eligible?

The law covers eight groups of patients who may be eligible to receive a Low THC Oil Registry Card. Among these are patients – both adults and children – who have been diagnosed with severe to end stage sickle cell disease. Three different sets of people may apply for the card:

    • A diagnosed adult
    • The parents or guardians of a diagnosed adult
    • The parents or guardians of a diagnosed minor child

What if More Than One Parent or Guardian Cares for a Patient in Different Locations?

If a patient will be treated in different locations – the child of separated parents for example – then each can apply for their own, separate card.

How Do You Apply for a Low THC Oil Registry Card?

The application for a Low THC Oil Registry Card is actually to be submitted by the physician treating the patient. There are two forms that need to be completed and submitted. The first, the waiver form is to be completed by both the applicant and the physician and can be downloaded here.

The second is the Physician Certification Form that doctors can download here. A copy is given to the patient.  Both forms are then submitted by the doctor to the Georgia Department of Public Health who will review it and issue the card as applicable.

How Much does a Low THC Oil Registry Card Cost?

Each Low THC Oil Registry Card costs $25. There is no fee to apply, but should a person be approved they will be asked to pay the $25 fee when picking up the card, which they can do at one of 18 Public Health Offices that distribute them. The card will then be valid for two years from the date of issue.

Where Can Low THC Oil Be Obtained?

The one thing that the new legislation does not provide for is assistance in obtaining the oil itself, it merely makes possessing it in the mandated amounts legal for those with a registry card. Many patients obtain their supply from a registered provider in another state where the production of medical marijuana is legal  as such things are not legal in Georgia at this time. The following is the act’s definition of the low THC oil that may be legally possessed:

  • The medical marijuana oil must contain no more than 5% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), and it must contain an amount of CBD (cannabidiol) that is at least equal to the amount of THC.
  • The low THC oil must be in a pharmaceutical container, and the label must clearly state the percentage of THC contained therein.
  • The patient may possess no more than 20 fluid ounces of low THC oil.

There are no official government resources available to assist patients seeking legal Low THC Oil but contacting a grass roots advocacy agency like The Georgia Care Project or Athens C.A.R.E may be helpful.

The Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia is also a valuable resource for those seeking more information about sickle cell disease.