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Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission Issues First Five Dispensing Licenses in Georgia

ATLANTA - The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission (“GMCC” or “Commission”) conducted a public meeting on Wednesday and voted to issue the state’s first five dispensing licenses to Botanical Sciences LLC and Trulieve GA Inc for medical cannabis dispensaries in Bibb County, Chatham County, and Cobb County.

For the first time in Georgia, this historic milestone will provide Georgia patients on the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Low-THC Oil Patient Registry with legal access to medical cannabis. “We appreciate the support and patience for the work of the Commission as we worked through the process required by law to ensure safe and quality access to medical cannabis,” Chair Sid Johnson said.

Since 2015, the Low-THC Oil Patient Registry has grown from 13,000 to over 27,000 registered patients. That number is expected to grow significantly as medical cannabis becomes available this summer, and this growth aligns with what other states have seen in these early stages of their respective programs.

“Our [Class 1 production] licensees, Botanical and Trulieve, have been working hard to get their production facilities fully operational. They have each signaled they are ready to sell to registered patients by applying for these initial dispensing licenses. We look forward to joining the two companies for their dispensary grand openings as they begin to provide low-THC oil and products to Georgia patients,” said Andrew Turnage, Executive Director of the GMCC.

“The dispensing licenses issued today are just the beginning,” Turnage said. “As more dispensaries become licensed, more patients will be reached at locations throughout the state.” Even with these licenses issued, the current production licenses are able to apply for the additional ones until they reach the maximum number allowed by state law.

The number of registered patients impacts the number of dispensaries that the Commission can license in the state. Georgia law authorizes the Commission to issue up to five initial dispensing licenses to each production licensee. In addition, the law authorizes the Commission to issue a sixth dispensing license to each production licensee when the Low-THC Oil Patient Registry reaches 25,000 registered patients and, then, an additional dispensing license for every 10,000 patients added after 25,000. With over 27,000 registered patients, the Commission is currently authorized to issue up to six dispensing licenses to each of the production licensees.

The Commission’s rules require dispensaries to pass a pre-operational inspection by the Commission or its employees before dispensing low-THC oil and products to registered patients. The rules also require dispensaries to be fully operational within 120 days of the date the dispensing license is issued. This time frame is necessary for dispensaries to train and onboard employees, prepare inventory of lab-tested oil and products, and complete all other steps necessary prior to opening.

Last September, the Commission issued two Class 1 production licenses to operate production facilities with up to 100,000 square feet of indoor growing space: Botanical Sciences LLC and Trulieve GA Inc. Due to litigation, the Commission has not been able to issue the four Class 2 production licenses to the four apparent successful applicants: FFD GA Holdings LLC, Theratrue Georgia LLC, Natures GA LLC, and Treevana Remedy Inc.

“We are hopeful that the Commission will be able to issue Class 2 production licenses to our top scoring applicants this year and pave more ways to provide Georgia patients with access to medical cannabis,” said Turnage. “The work of the Commission has always been focused on ‘access’ as mentioned in the agency’s name for our patients, and we are committed to ensuring that they receive the relief that they have waited years for.”

According to the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission, the law lists the following conditions and diseases which qualify for the Low THC Oil Registry:

• Cancer, when such diagnosis is end stage or the treatment produces related wasting illness or recalcitrant nausea and vomiting
• Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, when such diagnosis is severe or end stage
• Seizure disorders related to diagnosis of epilepsy or trauma related head injuries
• Multiple sclerosis, when such diagnosis is severe or end stage
• Crohn’s disease
• Mitochondrial disease
• Parkinson’s disease, when such diagnosis is sever or end stage
• Sickle cell disease, when such diagnosis is severe or end stage
• Tourette’s syndrome, when such syndrome is diagnosed as severe
• Autism spectrum disorder, when (a) patient is 18 years of age or more, or (b) patient is less than 18 years of age and diagnosed with severe autism
• Epidermolysis bullosa
• Alzheimer’s disease, when such disease is severe or end stage
• AIDS when such syndrome is severe or end stage
• Peripheral neuropathy, when symptoms are severe or end stage
• Patient is in hospice program, either as inpatient or outpatient
• Intractable pain
• Post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from direct exposure to or witnessing of a trauma for a patient who is at least 18 years of age

Submitted 4.27.23