Marijuana for medicinal purposes must be grown indoors in Georgia under close supervision.

ATLANTA – The state commission in charge of Georgia’s medical marijuana program has announced its intent to award six licenses to companies to grow the leaf crop and convert it into low-THC cannabis oil.

Two so-called “Class 1” licenses will allow the licensees to grow marijuana under close supervision in up to 100,000 square feet of growing space. Four “Class 2” licensees will limit recipients to not more than 50,000 square feet.

“It’s a great day for Georgians who need access to low-THC oil and their families who have advocated a quality of life for their loved ones,” Dr. Christopher Edwards, chairman of the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission and principal surgeon at the Atlanta Neurological & Spine Institute, said Saturday after the commission’s board met in Walker County.

The announcement of winning licensees was long in coming. While the General Assembly first legalized cannabis oil for the treatment of certain diseases in 2015, it wasn’t until 2019 that lawmakers passed a bill giving patients a legal means of obtaining the drug inside Georgia.

The legislation created the state commission to oversee the program, but it got off to a slow start. Members of the commission weren’t appointed until November 2019, four months after the law took effect, and it took another year to release a request for proposals from interested companies.

Sixty-nine businesses submitted competitive bids for the six licenses.

The businesses chosen to receive Class 1 licenses are Florida-based Trulieve GA Inc. and Botanical Sciences LLC.

“This will expand our Southeast operations hub to our neighboring state, and we are excited to bring the benefits of Trulieve cannabis products to Georgia patients,” said Kim Rivers, CEO of Trulieve.

“As the largest cannabis company in Florida, built on providing the broadest patient access to medical marijuana in the state, we feel well-positioned to approach the Georgia market with the same commitment to quality products, patient access, and positive customer experience.”

Class 2 licenses will go to FFD GA Holdings, TheraTrue Georgia, Natures GA and Treevana Remedy.

Under the 2019 legislation, licensees will be limited to producing low-THC cannabis oil containing no more than 5% THC, the psychoactive ingredient that gets marijuana users high.

The drug will be sold at licensed dispensaries or specially licensed pharmacies to patients suffering from a range of diseases including cancer, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, mitochondrial disease and sickle-cell anemia. 

Patients enrolled in a registry overseen by the state Department of Public Health must have a doctor’s prescription.

“Because of the dedication and hard work of the commission, we have been able to stay focused on getting the work done while always keeping patients’ needs as a top priority,” said Danielle Benson, the commission’s vice chair.

“This is a big step in the right direction, and the announcement of the six companies is an indication that help is on the way for Georgians.”