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The state of Georgia grants the first two licenses to produce medical cannabis

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ATLANTA – The agency responsible for Georgia’s medical cannabis program granted the first two production licenses for a product approved by the General Assembly seven years ago, but that has yet to materialize.

The Georgia Commission on Medical Cannabis voted this week to grant licenses to Trulieve Georgia Inc. and Biological Sciences LLC to grow marijuana and convert the foliar crop into low THC hemp oil for sale to patients suffering from a range of diseases.

Trulieve is building an indoor growing facility in Adel, while Biological Sciences is setting up shop in Glennville, Tattnall County 65 miles west of Savannah.

The legislature attempted to launch the medical cannabis program back in 2015 by legalizing possession of low-tetrahydrocannabinol cannabis oil. But the law did not provide a legal avenue to obtain the drug until 2019, when lawmakers established a licensing process for companies interested in entering the medical cannabis business in Georgia.

The commission issued initial production licenses to six companies more than a year ago, but the process quickly faltered when losing bidders staged protests claiming the selection of winners was unfair and arbitrary.

After a bill aimed at getting the process back on track failed during this year’s legislative session, Governor Brian Kemp set aside $150,000 from the governor’s emergency fund to speed up hearings for those companies denied licenses.

Florida-based Trulieve Cannabis officials said Wednesday that the company will begin work on licensing its production.

“The Georgia team is working hard to start operations as soon as possible to ensure that those in need have access to Trulieve’s line of products,” said Lisa Pinckney, President of Georgia at Trulieve. “We are also excited to share with the Trulieve operation and its associate business partners expected to create a wide range of jobs in the state as the business grows.”

Trulieve will receive an initial allocation of five cannabis dispensaries in Georgia and will seek to open additional dispensaries as the number of patients grows, according to a press release.

Under the 2019 law, low THC cannabis oil can be used in Georgia to treat patients with conditions including seizure disorders, Parkinson’s disease, muscle cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, and sickle cell anemia.

To obtain the drug – which is available by prescription only – patients must register in a registry supervised by the state’s Ministry of Public Health.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Education Foundation.

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