Cannabis in Georgia (U.S. state)

Cannabis in Georgia is legal for limited medical uses in the form of CBD oil, but illegal for adult use.

1980 medical legalization[edit]

In February 1980, a 50-0 Senate vote and a 156-8 House vote passed Mona Taft’s bill supporting legal medical marijuana in Georgia for people diagnosed with glaucoma and cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. Members from both parties came together to support Taft, including then-state Sen. Paul Broun. According to a Feb. 14, 1980, Knight-Ridder wire report about the bill, Broun hugged Taft when the legislation passed the Senate. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Virlyn Smith, R-Fairburn, even told the widow that he’d recently given a constituent taking chemotherapy a recipe for marijuana-laced chocolate-chip cookies. Georgia’s program had effectively ended without ever supplying a single patient with the medical marijuana promised. Subsequent Georgia governors had the authority to reappoint the board, but never acted. As a result, the law has lingered on the books for the last 30 years.[1]

2015 medical legalization[edit]

A measure to allow medical cannabis oil up to 5% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) passed the Georgia House in February 2015.[2] On April 16, 2015, the non-psychoactive form of marijuana oil (cannabidol oil or CBD oil) was legalized for medical use in the state under HB 1,[3] the Haleigh’s Hope Act.[4][5] The bill was immediately enacted after being signed by the Governor, Nathan Deal. The original bill allowed possession of the oil for eight qualifying medical conditions but did not provide for cultivation or distribution within the state. A May 2017 expansion under SB 16 added six more conditions.[6][7] In 2018, HB 65 added intractable pain and PTSD.[8]

Several attempts to expand access to medical cannabis by providing for in-state cultivation were met with resistance from politicians and ultimately failed.[9]

Medical cannabis was not without precedent in Georgia; the state had conducted legal cannabis trials on cancer patients in the 1970s.[10]

Illicit trade[edit]

In the 1970s and 1980s, a number of county sheriffs and deputies were prosecuted for their involvement in the drug trade, including Sheriff John David Davis, a former moonshiner who had been pardoned by President Nixon and was convicted in 1984 of smuggling cannabis into south Georgia. Davis’ case parallels that of a number of other former moonshiners who segued into the cannabis trade.[11]

1983 paraquat spraying[edit]

In 1983, amidst controversy, the Drug Enforcement Administration conducted aerial spraying of illegal cannabis plots in the Chattahoochee National Forest in northern Georgia, using the herbicide paraquat. Citizens and a congressman objected, noting paraquat’s dangers, and a temporary restraining order was placed on further spraying. The federal Drug Abuse Policy Officer Pat McKelvey rebutted that paraquat is a safe and widely used herbicide, and alleged that the objections to the DEA spraying had been raised by cannabis growers and legalization advocates.[12]


  1. ^ “Doctors wanted for Georgia’s medical marijuana law « Creative Loafing Atlanta”. 2013-01-09. Retrieved 2013-01-09.
  2. ^ “Cannabis Oil: “It Will Help With The Pain And Make Life A Little More Bearable” « CBS Atlanta”. 1995-09-01. Retrieved 2015-03-02.
  3. ^ “HB 1 2015-2016 Regular Session”. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  4. ^ “Medical marijuana is now legal in Georgia”. 2015-04-16. Retrieved 2015-04-16.
  5. ^ Georgia – MPP
  6. ^ Georgia medical marijuana expansion bill signed into law.
  7. ^ “SB 16 2017-2018 Regular Session”. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  8. ^ “HB 65 2017-2018 Regular Session”. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  9. ^ “Push to allow growing medical marijuana in Georgia is dead”. macon. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  10. ^ Mary Lynn Mathre, R.N. (1 July 1997). Cannabis in Medical Practice: A Legal, Historical and Pharmacological Overview of the Therapeutic Use of Marijuana. McFarland. pp. 70–. ISBN 978-0-7864-0361-5.
  11. ^ Vincent Coppola (2008). The Sicilian Judge: Anthony Alaimo, an American Hero. Mercer University Press. pp. 221–. ISBN 978-0-88146-125-1.
  12. ^ Reed Business Information (25 August 1983). New Scientist. Reed Business Information. pp. 531–. ISSN 0262-4079.