Medical cannabis is slowly but surely coming to the state of Georgia, a little bit at a time. The state is now accepting applications for those who want to manufacture cannabis. This means that those who need medical cannabis oil, which is legal in the state, will actually be able to obtain it within state lines. 

This move is a long time coming, as it has been five years since treatment with medical cannabis oil was legalized in the state by the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission. 

As of now, there are about 14,000 registered patients in the state hoping to use medical cannabis oil as treatment, but until now, they had to go out of state to do it. While medical cannabis use in certain cases was made legal in 2015, sale of legal cannabis was only legalized last year, and due to COVID delays, the industry is only now getting started. 

As of now, those interested in being manufacturers have through December 28 to apply for one of the first licenses in the Georgia cannabis industry. Licenses will be issued in March if all goes according to plan, but it could still take six months to a year from that time before cannabis is actually available to patients.

“I do think this is the first step in a really great economic development opportunity with an emphasis on Georgia business and small business development,” said Andrew Turnage, the commission’s executive director. “The commission works very hard to keep this process moving forward every single day.”

Since the sale and production of cannabis was legalized a year ago, the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission has been meeting and coming up with a plan for distribution, testing, oversight, and giving licenses to the businesses who want to join the industry and sell cannabis oil. 

The Fine Print

As of now, the licensing process is extremely complex and competitive, as only six companies will be licensed to join the industry. The oil they create cannot have more than 5 percent THC, and can still only be prescribed in specific, medical circumstances. Furthermore, facilities must either be 100,000 square feet or 50,000 square feet, and only two of the businesses licensed can be the larger side. 

Any licensed facilities will have to hire security and install cameras to keep things safe and secure. A seed-to-sale tracking system will keep track of product at all times so that the industry meets strict guidelines and stays compliant. 

The next step after establishing those who will grow cannabis and extract oil will be to grant licenses to the oil dispensaries that will be selling product. Once those businesses are up and running, patients will actually be able to get the help they need in-state.

“We just want to keep the patients in the forefront,” Commission Chairman Dr. Christopher Edwards said. “And the longer this process goes on, the longer the time it takes for patients to receive help.”

The medical cannabis industry in Georgia is just in its beginning stages, but it’s shaping up to be running strong in the coming years.

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