ATLANTA – The state commission in charge of Georgia’s medical marijuana program adopted a rules Wednesday for the manufacture and sale of low-THC cannabis oil to patients suffering from a variety of diseases.

“We’re all proud to have some rules in place,” Sid Johnson, chairman of the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission, said following the unanimous vote. “It is a milestone on the way to achieving our goal of providing a quality product to patients.”

The commission was created by a law the General Assembly passed in 2019 to move Georgia from simply legalizing possession of cannabis oil to allowing marijuana to be grown in the state under close supervision and converted into a product that could be sold to patients enrolled in a state registry.

Patients eligible to receive cannabis oil include those suffering from seizure disorders, Parkinson’s disease, terminal cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder and sickle-cell anemia.

The rules will govern various aspects of the program including the facilities that will produce the oil, the dispensaries where the oil will be sold, and the independent laboratories that will test the product.

The commission awarded two Class 1 licenses last September to Trulieve Georgia Inc., which is building a plant in Adel, and Botanical Sciences LLC, which will set up shop in Glennville. Under the 2019 law, Class 1 licensees may grow marijuana in up to 100,000 square feet of indoor space.

The original law allowed each licensee to open up to five dispensaries for selling the product. However, licensees now will be permitted to add an additional dispensary because the enrollment in the registry has increased to more than 25,000, commission Executive Director Andrew Turnage said last week.

The law also authorized an additional four Class 2 licenses for companies that will be allowed to grow the leaf crop on up to 50,000 square feet of indoor space. However, the awarding of those licensees is awaiting the outcome of lawsuits filed by companies that lost out in the bidding.

During a public hearing on the rules last week, several speakers asked the commission for some amendments to the rules.

Michael Mumper of Georgians for Responsible Marijuana Policy said the minimum distance from schools dispensaries would be allowed to operate should be increased from 1,000 feet to 3,000 feet, the same minimum separation the rules require for greenhouses.

He also asked that dispensaries be limited to “reasonable” inventories of cannabis oil at any one time, no more than a supply of three or four months.

Others asked for stricter packaging and labeling requirements on the drug.

However, the commission adopted the rules Wednesday with no changes.

Turnage said the two Class 1 licensees could be in operation by this spring, with dispensaries to follow in six to eight months.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.