Georgia’s Cannabis Card Hurdles: Struggle for Medical Access Hinders Hopeful Families

Medical <a href="" class="st_tag internal_tag " rel="tag" title="Posts tagged with Cannabis">Cannabis</a> Maze in Georgia: Families Face Challenges in Accessing Vital <a href="" class="st_tag internal_tag " rel="tag" title="Posts tagged with Treatment">Treatment</a>

Medical Cannabis Maze in Georgia: Families Face Challenges in Accessing Vital Treatment

In Macon, at the age of 13, Darrell Johns, affectionately known as Peanut, weighed a mere 40 pounds and grappled with five seizures a week. Leslie Johns, his devoted mother and full-time caregiver, recalled the arduous journey of administering 17 pills daily through his G tube, yet the seizures persisted. Valium, given as a rescue measure, left him groggy and lethargic due to his small stature. Fast-forward to age 21, and Darrell’s story takes a positive turn. Since starting medical cannabis treatment in 2015, he experienced over a year without a single seizure, uttering his first word shortly after the treatment commenced.

The transformation was remarkable; Darrell now weighs 100 pounds, communicates with 10 to 15 words, and endures seizures every couple of months. The cumbersome pill regimen has been reduced to a mere two pills daily. Darrell now relishes moments that were once a struggle—enjoying rides on his father’s sidecar and indulging in favorite TV shows like “The Price is Right,” “Wheel of Fortune,” and “Jeopardy.”

However, amid the success stories, a cloud of frustration looms for caregivers like Johns due to recent glitches hindering the attainment or renewal of medical cannabis cards in Georgia. Following years of legal and legislative debates, Georgia saw its first legal open their doors this year. State regulations allow cannabis with minimal THC content, the compound for marijuana’s psychoactive effects. Patients diagnosed with specific severe conditions are eligible, requiring renewal every two years.

Johns’ struggle highlights the issue. Despite timely efforts to renew her card in April, well before its expiration, she encountered hurdles. Despite reaching out to the Georgia Department of Public and involving Darrell’s doctor, her card remained elusive. While her husband’s card renewal was successful, the inconvenience remained palpable.

The problem isn’t exclusive to Johns; Steve Vancore from Trulieve, a medical cannabis company in Georgia, confirmed the widespread issue. Patients, some critically ill, are experiencing lengthy and cumbersome card application processes. The demand for calls surged to 1,000 per week, now stabilized at 200. Late July witnessed 29,494 registered patients, up from 27,000 in April.

As of early August, 558 cards await , most entangled in application or document-related issues. Nancy Nydam from the Georgia Department of Public Health acknowledged the challenges. Address discrepancies, missing documents, or non-matching information contribute to delays. Daily card shipments to local health departments for pickup have begun, enhancing accessibility.

While acknowledging the Department’s efforts, Vancore emphasized the need for streamlined procedures seen in other . Across eight states, Trulieve serves patients with varying identification methods. Acknowledging Georgia’s remote physician visits via telehealth, Vancore envisions expanding such accommodations, like mailing cards directly to patients.

The journey for families like the Johns, once marked by desperation, finds hope in medical cannabis. Yet, the labyrinthine path to obtaining vital cards obstructs their way. With the keyphrase “Medical Cannabis Access” at the heart of their struggle, Georgia stands at a crossroads, balancing medical advancements and bureaucratic challenges.

Malvin Felix
I'm Malvin, a cannabis news enthusiast who finds joy in staying updated about the latest industry trends. My passion led me to become a dedicated writer, entrepreneur, and investor in the cannabis space. Through my writing, I aim to educate and spark discussions, while my entrepreneurial ventures and strategic investments reflect my commitment to driving positive change in the industry.

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