Jan 25, 2023 - News

Medical cannabis commission to vote on rules

Illustration of a marijuana leaf shown in the negative space of many leaves.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

After years of waiting and litigation, a state commission will vote Wednesday on rules and regulations governing Georgia's yet-to-launch medical marijuana program, paving the way for legal dispensaries to open.

What's happening: At 4pm Wednesday, the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission will meet to approve rules governing where dispensaries can be located, how marijuana will be transported, and other in-the-weeds details.

Why it matters: An estimated 25,000 people are on Georgia's registry and waiting for a legal avenue to buy locally grown low-THC oil to treat cancer, seizures and other diseases and conditions.

Catch up quick: Families and patients who said the drug provided them with relief from pain waged a multi-year lobbying battle at the Georgia General Assembly to create a medical marijuana program, succeeding finally in April 2019.

  • It would be more than three years until the commission could award Trulieve Georgia and Botanical Sciences licenses to grow and process marijuana for the program and operate up to five dispensaries.
  • In mid-December, the commission presented draft rules governing growing, production and dispensaries selling the product, which can contain no more than 5% THC.

What they're saying: At a commission hearing last week in Gainesville, executives urged the body to approve the rules.

  • "We believe it would be detrimental to patients to further delay the program further with regulatory nitpicking," Lisa Pinkney, president of Trulieve Georgia, which will operate a 100,000-square-foot grow facility in Adel, told the commission.

The other side: Members of Georgians for Responsible Marijuana Policy, an advocacy group critical of the program, urged the commission to increase the buffer between dispensaries and schools, require warning labels, and ensure growers have plans for disposing or recycling excess greenery.

What's next: If approved, the rules take effect on Feb. 14, Pinkey told Axios in a statement. Then commission officials must inspect and sign off on testing labs and dispensaries.

Watch the meeting online

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