Georgia’s medical cannabis program is finally taking shape.
On Saturday, the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission announced the cannabis companies awarded the first licenses to cultivate cannabis in the state.
“The objective of the Commission has been to get medical cannabis oil out to Georgia patients as quickly as possible,” said Christopher Edwards, chair of the Commission, during Saturday’s meeting. Though, COVID-19 came up more than once during the meeting, with Edwards saying it “derailed” the Commission “a bit.”
“This was a heavy lift,” Edwards said. “It is historic, it has not been done in the state of Georgia.”
While lawmakers passed a law in 2015 that allowed patients to legally possess low-THC medical cannabis oil, with a doctor’s recommendation, there was no way to access these products in-state. The state’s General Assembly passed HB 324 two years ago to establish a regulatory regime for cultivation, processing, and sales, but regulators have been slow to build the program, which is among the most conservative in the country. For example, medical cannabis products sold in the state must be non-smokable and cannot contain more than 5% THC.
This spring, Gov. Brian Kemp signed SB 195, which clarified many aspects of the previous medical cannabis legislation.
As Cannabis Wire has reported, noteworthy lobbying has happened in the state in recent years, including by two of the largest multistate operators, with particularly large footprints in the region: Parallel (Surterra) and Trulieve.
At least one of those entities was awarded a license. Class 1 licenses went to Botanical Sciences LLC and Trulieve Georgia. Class 2 licenses were awarded to FFD Georgia Holdings, Natures Georgia, TheraTrue Georgia, and Treevana Remedy. The announcement also noted that regulators will publish an “official report” of all validated applicant scores. (Class 1 licensees can cultivate twice as much as those with Class 2 licenses.)
At the end of the meeting, Edwards said that the Commission is calling for an additional two to four licenses, though the legislature and the governor would have to make that happen.