Georgia’s AG department is being urged to provide medical cannabis oversight

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Georgia regulators are requesting that the Department of Agriculture provide assistance with oversight for the state’s restrictive medical cannabis program. Rep. Micah Gravley stated that cannabis “is an agricultural product; we’re an agricultural state,” during an introductory meeting held by the Medical Cannabis Commission’s Oversight Committee.

Despite the fact that limited medical cannabis has been approved in Georgia since 2019, the program’s rollout has been tedious. Much progress was made this summer, when the commission awarded six cannabis cultivation licenses. Moreover, the legislative process to award dispensary permits is advancing.

Certain obstacles may hinder the progress of Georgia’s medical cannabis program. Why? Because state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black has confirmed that he favors hemp over medical cannabis.

On the other hand, Black is optimistic that he will gain Georgia’s 2022 Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, which means that “The Peach State” could have a new AG commissioner next year.

“Having them involved going forward is a good thing,” Rep. Gravely is quoted as saying during the committee’s inaugural meeting.

Gravely was a chief sponsor of General Assembly-approved legislation

Two years ago, following the passing of legislation by the General Assembly, a state commission was developed. The legislation’s adoption meant that companies were awarded licenses to cultivate and transform the plant into cannabis oil containing low amounts of the psychoactive compound THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

The cannabis-infused oil is developed to treat patients who suffer from an array of diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS), mitochondrial disease, Parkinson’s disease, seizures and sickle-cell anemia.

It took until this past summer for the commission which was formed in 2019 to award cannabis oil production licenses to six lucky companies. Two “Class 1” license-holders will be authorized to cultivate cannabis under close supervision in a cultivation space that stretches over 100,000 square feet.  

“Class 2” licenses were also awarded to four other companies. Such licenses will limit licensees to growing the plant within 50,000 square feet of space.

Georgia’s largest beach town decriminalizes cannabis

Something else that happened in Georgia recently was the decriminalization of cannabis in Tybee Island. Members of the City Council voted to make possession of one ounce or less a civil penalty fine not exceeding $150.

Prior to the rule’s adoption, possession was charged as a misdemeanor; punishable by a maximum one-year stint in prison and a $1,000 fine.

A total of 12 other Georgia cities, including Atlanta and Savannah, have also passed similar statutes to decriminalize the green plant.

“I can’t speak highly enough about reducing penalties for [cannabis],” said Tybee Island Councilman, Monty Parks. 

Although cannabis has been decriminalized in what is recognized as the state’s biggest public beach town, individuals may still be faced with a misdemeanor if they are caught driving under the influence (DUI).