Georgia’s medicinal cannabis program could have oil on its shelves in a matter of weeks – HONEYCOMB

Georgia’s eight-year journey to legal access to medicinal cannabis could happen within weeks of making the product available to thousands of Georgians. Two state manufacturers are expected to have their products available no later than this summer.

The next big step for the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission is to issue dispensing licenses to the state’s two current low-THC oil producers. These would be used to open up to 12 stores across the state.

These two manufacturers are Botanical Sciences with an office in southeast Georgia in Glenville and Trulieve Georgia with an office in Adel, South Georgia.

The Commission recently released data on the number of patients in the Georgian Low THC Oil Registry by county. Obtaining this data was difficult due to concerns about medical privacy.

Commission Executive Director Andrew Turnage explains how they expect the two current producers to use the data.

“When they apply to the Commission for their dispensing license, we have asked them to demonstrate how they will serve the patient population in their chosen area,” he said. “So we really wanted them to have access to this data so they could show us how their plan will reach patients in their chosen area.”

Data from the Georgia Department of Health’s Low-THC Oil Registry showing patients by county. (Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission)

Four counties in Atlanta each have between 1,000 and 3,000 registered patients. That’s Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett. The next county level has 500 to 1,000 patients each and includes Cherokee, Clayton, Forsyth, Henry, and Spalding.

Of Georgia’s 159 counties, only two have no registered patients. These are Clay County in Southwest Georgia and Glascock in East Georgia.

In all, there are about 27,000 patients on the low-THC oil registry in Georgia. Turnage expects that number to increase.

“On the Commission side, we expect that number to actually rise to the 100,000 mark,” he said. “We expect that. That’s just based on similar states with similar-sized registries that started medical-only programs, similar to Georgia. You know, we’re assuming it could grow beyond that, but that’s what we’re expecting, 12 to 18 months.”

To be included in the low-THC oil registry, a doctor must confirm your eligibility against a list of statutory conditions, including severe ALS, autism, MS, and Parkinson’s.

Possession of medicinal cannabis was first legalized in Georgia in 2015, but there was no way to legally purchase it. This happened in 2019 with the creation of the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission, which would regulate the state’s production of low-THC oil. This process was slow and at times involved legal action.

This continues to apply to the four manufacturers who were granted a different license level for a smaller installation.

Issues surrounding the state’s medicinal cannabis program have become a focal point in recent legislatures. At the last general assembly, legislation that would have dissolved the commission and placed the program under the Georgia Department of Agriculture failed. The same legislation would have increased the number of production licenses. Hear an in-depth discussion of this legislation in this episode of the WABE podcast, Gold Dome Scramble.