Turnage previously worked as executive director for the Georgia State Board of Cosmetology and Barbers until 2017. He's currently the intake director for the Georgia secretary of state's office.
Turnage is also a former deputy sheriff in Hall County. He donated $1,950 to Republican Brian Kemp in 2017 and 2018 when he was running for governor, according to campaign finance records.
The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission selected Turnage on Wednesday from four candidates vetted by the Goodwin Group, a search firm. The job's salary range is $90,000 to $95,000.
Patients have been allowed to use medical marijuana in Georgia since 2015, but it was only last year that the General Assembly passed a bill permitting its production and sale.
Under the law, six companies will be licensed to cultivate medical marijuana, which can have no more than 5% THC, the compound that gives marijuana users a high.
Turnage will manage the cannabis oil licensing process, the creation of a distribution network, and testing and oversight rules.