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Georgia Fails To Pass Medical Cannabis… Again

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It’s been seven years since registered medical marijuana patients in the state of Georgia were granted the right to take low THC cannabis oil for their ailments. And in those seven years, not a single thing has changed.

Despite the fact that registered MMJ users are permitted the take cannabis oil, the sale and production of medical marijuana and its related products – including oil – is still illegal in Georgia. 

HB1425 And Georgia’s Unwillingness To Legalize Medical Cannabis

On Monday night, House Bill 1425, which would allow for the production and sale of medical cannabis products, fettered out on the Senate floor, after Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler (D-Stone Mountain) moved to table to legislation. A move that ultimately passed with a 28-27 vote, just before the legislative session adjourned for the rest of the year.

What this means is that Georgia’s 20,000 registered medical marijuana patients will have to wait until 2023 before another vote can be brought to the Senate floor, something that these patients and their loved ones have already been waiting for, for seven long years.

In 2019, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed legislation that would establish a system to produce, process, and sell medical marijuana oil. After this legislation, the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission tentatively awarded licenses to six companies that would serve the Georgia medical cannabis market. However, the program’s rollout has been stalled since 16 other applicants who were unsuccessful in receiving licenses decided to challenge the licensing process. 

During this year’s legislative session, Georgia lawmakers attempted to offer up solutions to the stalling in order to get the process rolling once again, with both the Senate and the House each offering up a proposal.

According to Cannabis Business Times, “The measure approved by the House, House Bill 1425, would have restarted Georgia’s medical cannabis licensing process, throwing out the six licenses that were tentatively awarded last year. The proposal approved by the Senate, Senate Bill 609, would have given the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission a May 31 deadline to license six companies that had previously applied for licenses, but not necessarily the six companies that were tentatively awarded licenses last year.”

On March 22nd, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted to advance Senate Bill 609, after which, another committee, made up of representatives from both the House and the Senate, put together a compromise proposal that would allow the original six licensees to keep their licenses while awarding another three licenses to other companies.

This would have allowed the original 63 applicants who weren’t awarded licenses the chance to be granted one, without having to pay the registration fee again, provided they withdrew from any lawsuits or protests against the original licensing process. 

The House passed this measure by a vote of 95-73, however before the Senate could vote on the bill, Senate Minority Leader Butler opted to table it, with the reason being that “it would have allowed the licensing process to move forward while there were still outstanding questions from losing bidders who had threatened to sue the state,” says MJBizDaily.

How Long Will Georgia MMJ Patients Need To Wait?

For medical marijuana patients, this seven-year-long battle to get the medicine they need has just been prolonged once again, something that is frustrating to both patients, as well as lawmakers who have been desperately trying to get the legislation to pass.

According to Fox5 Atlanta, House Speaker David Ralston was just as frustrated as Georgia’s 20,000 medical marijuana patients. “I’m really, really disappointed. We’ve been trying to get this done here in Georgia for about seven or eight years now, and it’s still not done.”

[Related Reading: Mississippi Drags Its Feet on Medical Program]

So after seven long years, Georgia’s fight for legal medical marijuana has just been pushed back to the very beginning, again, and patients will have to wait at least until the Senate reconvenes in 2023 before another vote can be held.

As of this writing, 37 states – as well as Puerto Rico, Guam, the US Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia – have legalized medical marijuana. Georgia is still not one of them, nor does it seem they will be anytime soon.

While its citizens continue to suffer, the state of Georgia will be holding out for at least another year before the processing, production, and sale of medical marijuana is legalized, despite the fact that the state has 20,000 registered MMJ users. This registration means that it’s legal for them to possess cannabis oil that contains up to 5% THC. And yet, those 20,000 people who need medical marijuana for various ailments, cannot buy it in their home state. It’s time for Georgia to wake up.

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