Medical cannabis commission approves rules for future Georgia dispensaries

Wednesday marked a milestone for patients who’ve been waiting for easier access to medical marijuana in Georgia.
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 9:55 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 26, 2023 at 6:11 AM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Wednesday marked a milestone for patients who’ve been waiting for easier access to medical marijuana in Georgia.

Companies tapped to grow and dispense the medicine in the state now have an official set of rules they must follow. The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission approved rules on testing, inspections, and distribution.

“We’ve been at this for a very long time,” said medical marijuana advocate Sebastien Cotte. “We’re still waiting.”

Seven years ago, then-Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill legalizing low-THC cannabis oil for certain patients who have a state-issued registry card. The law allowed those patients to possess the oil, but they couldn’t buy it in Georgia.

Since 2015, patients and their caregivers have had to cross state lines to obtain the oil, which is against federal law.

“I have to find a way to get the cannabis, and I have had to break laws to do what I have to do as a dad to see my son stay alive,” said Cotte, whose son Jagger suffers from a rare neurological disorder that makes him immobile.

Jagger’s life expectancy was age four, and now Jagger is twelve. Cotte credits medicinal cannabis for his son’s relief and progress.

“And now finally, hopefully, in the next month to month-and-a-half, we should have some dispensaries here.”

On Wednesday, there was new hope for Cotte as the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission Board laid out the new rules for the two Georgia companies getting the green light to open dispensaries.

Trulieve Georgia Inc. and Botanical Sciences LLC will have to stay on top of quality control, product tracking, labeling, dispensing locations, and enforcement.

Licensing those companies in Georgia came with controversy.

“There were for lack of a better word, issues with the awarding processes of licensing, “Attorney Jerome Lee said.

Lee represents Georgia Atlas, one of several medicinal cannabis companies suing Georgia after they said they were denied licensing.

“The state has elected to proceed forward even though the litigation is still pending, and in theory, you could have a court order that undoes all of this,” Lee said.

As for Cotte, he’s just hoping medicinal marijuana locations become more convenient soon.

“Our process was honestly a mess in Georgia, and I’m not surprised about the lawsuit. I just hope it’s not going to hold up the entire process,” Cotte said.

The two companies each will be allowed to open up to five dispensary locations, according to the commission.