Georgia Finally Grants Some Medical Cannabis Licenses, Allowing Patient Access ‘Very Soon’

After years of waiting, thousands of patients enrolled in Georgia’s medical cannabis registry will soon be able to legally receive their medication.

On Thursday, the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission issued five dispensing licenses to two companies to begin selling low-THC oil to patients on the list.

Trulieve Georgia submitted three applications for facilities in Marietta, Pooler and Macon and Botanical Sciences LLC submitted three applications for facilities in Pooler and Marietta.

With the approval, the companies have 120 days to open their doors.

“This is a milestone for the Commission and certainly for the certified patients who will be able to legally obtain medicinal cannabis very soon,” said Commission Chair Sidney Johnson. “You have waited a long time for this relief. The original law was passed in 2015. It took four years for legislation to create the commission and now, four years later, we have the regulatory infrastructure in place and are not far from the day when licensees will open their doors to patients.”

Of the more than 27,000 patients on the list, most are in metro Atlanta. Cobb and Fulton counties each have between 2,000 and 3,000 patients, according to the commission. Bibb County has between 500 and 750 patients and Chatham County has between 250 and 500.

Each business can apply for up to six liquor licenses.

“We can expect future locations to continue to reach more patients as our licensees continue to open more locations,” said Andrew Turnage, Executive Director of the Commission.

Once the facilities open, registered patients or their carers will be able to check their licenses on the commission’s website. In order to receive their medicines, they must bring their patient registration card issued by the Ministry of Health and a photo ID.

Places on the registry are only open to people with serious diagnoses such as terminal cancer, Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease. The program does not allow recreational forms of marijuana.

The state legislature legalized low-THC medicinal cannabis oil in 2015, but the law did not provide a way for patients to legally obtain the drug.

The approval may mark the beginning of some relief for Georgia patients, but some of the other companies that have applied for licenses to grow the product in Georgia say the process used to decide who would receive the licenses was unfair. The state also granted another tier of licenses to four smaller growers whose court cases are still pending.

This year, lawmakers thought about it, but did not pass legislation aimed at opening up this process and increasing the number of producers.