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Will Georgia Legalize Cannabis? GA Medical Cannabis Program Explained

Kymberly Drapcho

by Kymberly Drapcho

September 15, 2023 12:00 pm ET Estimated Read Time: 3 Minutes
Will Georgia Legalize Cannabis? GA Medical Cannabis Program Explained

All eyes are on Georgia’s medical cannabis program as it continues to grow. 

Toward the end of last month, the Georgia government approved licenses for three new dispensaries. Two of these dispensaries will be located in the Atlanta Metropolitan area. 

Georgia Adds Three New Dispensaries

Commissioners approved a license for Trulieve GA Inc., a prominent cannabis corporation in the state. Trulieve plans to open a new medical cannabis dispensary in Evans, Georgia. 

Additionally, Botanical Sciences is approved to open two new dispensary locations in Chamblee and Stockbridge, Georgia. The company will operate four dispensaries total across the state. 

The History of the Georgia Medical Cannabis Program

Georgia’s medical cannabis program started sales this past spring. 

Though Georgia is one of the last states to officially legalize medical cannabis, the state has been gradually reforming its laws around low-THC cannabis oil for qualifying patients.

In 2015, Georgia passed HB 1, also known as the Haleigh’s Hope Act, allowing medical cannabis oil for medical use. The bill was enacted as soon as Governor Nathan Deal signed it, permitting possession for eight qualifying medical conditions but not allowing cultivation or distribution within the state.

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In 2017, the state legislature expanded the law to include six more medical conditions, later adding intractable pain and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as qualifying conditions in 2018.

In April 2019, House Bill 324 was approved, enabling in-state cultivation and the sale of low-THC oil. In 2021, SB 195 allowed the sale of cannabis tinctures, transdermal patches, lotions, and capsules but continued to prohibit edible products and flower.

Finally, on April 28, 2023, the first licensed sales commenced with the opening of dispensaries in Marietta and Macon.

Currently, Georgia’s medical cannabis program is designed to provide relief to individuals with specific medical conditions by allowing them to use a particular cannabis product known as “low THC oil.” This oil is derived from the cannabis plant but contains very low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound responsible for the psychoactive effects or feeling “high.” This cannabis oil may not contain more than 5% THC. In simpler terms, it won’t make you feel intoxicated like recreational cannabis can. 

To participate in the program, eligible individuals need to obtain a “Low THC Oil Registry Card” from the Georgia Department of Public Health. This card serves as legal proof that they are authorized to possess and use low-THC oil for their medical needs. Essentially, it protects them from being arrested or facing legal consequences for using this specific type of cannabis oil as prescribed by a qualified healthcare provider.

The medical conditions that qualify for this program typically include severe and debilitating conditions like epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease, among others. The program aims to offer therapeutic benefits to patients who might find relief from their symptoms through low-THC oil, all within the framework of state laws and regulations. Essentially, it’s a way for individuals with these medical conditions to access treatment without fear of breaking the law.

Georgia Medical Cannabis Landscape: Growth Incoming

The three newly issued licenses will bring the number of cannabis dispensaries in Georgia to 10 in total. With nearly 30,000 registered patients and a backlog of around 500 waiting to get their medical cannabis cards, the state has been forced to grow its medical cannabis program. 

Want to get your Georgia medical cannabis card? Veriheal can connect you with a licensed physician in your area.

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