Georgia’s first medical marijuana dispensaries could open within days

State board issues first licenses for stores in Macon, Marietta and Savannah area
The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission approved the state's first dispensing licenses for a low-THC oil. That means the 27,000-plus patients are currently registered to consume medical marijuana could soon obtain it legally. “They’ve waited a long time for this relief.” said Sid Johnson, center, the chairman of the commission. Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission approved the state's first dispensing licenses for a low-THC oil. That means the 27,000-plus patients are currently registered to consume medical marijuana could soon obtain it legally. “They’ve waited a long time for this relief.” said Sid Johnson, center, the chairman of the commission. Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

The board that oversees Georgia’s medical marijuana program voted Wednesday to issue the state’s first five dispensing licenses for stores in Macon, Marietta and the Savannah area.

Stores could open within days, giving patients a way to legally buy the product they’ve been allowed to use for eight years in Georgia.

“It’s an understatement to say that significant progress has been made in getting safe and secure medication to certified patients across Georgia,” said Sid Johnson, chairman for the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission. “They’ve waited a long time for this relief.”

One of Georgia’s licensed medical marijuana companies, Trulieve, announced Wednesday that it plans to open stores in Marietta and Macon as soon as this week after its facilities pass inspections.

Dispensaries will be available only to patients and caregivers who show their Low-THC Oil Registry card and a photo ID. Registry cards can be obtained from the Department of Public Health following approval from a physician to treat several conditions allowed under state law, including seizures, Parkinson’s disease and terminal cancers.

Over 27,000 patients are currently registered to consume medical marijuana and 19,000 caregivers are registered to buy it in Georgia, and those numbers are expected to significantly increase once stores open.

Georgia’s medical marijuana production companies, Botanical Sciences and Trulieve, will operate the dispensaries, which can sell cannabis oil with no more than 5% THC, the compound that gives marijuana users a high. Recreational usage of marijuana remains illegal in Georgia.

The companies plan to compete with each other, with each of them receiving dispensing licenses for stores in Marietta and Pooler, located outside Savannah. Trulieve also obtained a license in Macon.

Additional dispensaries could open soon afterward. Each company is allowed to open up to six dispensaries, and the companies have previously announced plans for stores in the Augusta, Columbus, Gwinnett County and Newnan areas.

The dispensaries approved Wednesday must open within 120 days, giving companies time to train staff, submit their products for testing and package it for sale.

But the companies don’t have to wait: They can begin doing business as soon as they’re ready.

A map showing dispensary locations will be available before they open on the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission’s website.

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