ATLANTA – In 2019, the Common Meeting created a fee to launch a medical marijuana program in Georgia by awarding licenses to firms to develop the leaf crop and convert it into low-THC hashish oil.
Three years later, not a single affected person has obtained a single dose. Regardless of the tentative granting of six licenses final summer season, the initiative is mired in authorized protests filed by firms denied licenses claiming the choice course of was flawed.
“It’s essentially the most maddening course of I’ve ever seen,” mentioned state Rep. Alan Powell, R-Hartwell, chairman of the Home Regulated Industries Committee.
Now, Powell is pushing laws he says would resolve the authorized points and get this system on monitor.
Home Invoice 1400 would enhance the variety of licenses the state awards from six to as many as 28. That will permit the 16 firms which have filed protests to reapply for a license relatively than pursue their protest in court docket and trigger additional delays, Powell testified throughout two days of hearings on the invoice.
“It’s time we do what’s mandatory to repair a damaged system,” he mentioned.
The greater than 20,000 Georgia sufferers who’ve registered with the state Division of Public Well being to obtain low-THC hashish oil are annoyed they haven’t been in a position to get the drug three years after the legislature created this system.
Below the 2019 invoice, sufferers affected by a wide range of illnesses qualify for low-THC hashish oil. The listing contains most cancers, seizure problems, a number of sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s illness, Parkinson’s illness and sickle-cell anemia.
Dale Jackson, the daddy of a teenage son with autism, took lawmakers to job throughout one of many hearings for failing to maintain their promise to supply a authorized pathway for Georgians to get the oil.
“We have been instructed, ‘Simply do it proper. Simply observe the method,’ ” Jackson instructed members of a Home subcommittee assigned to think about Powell’s invoice. “You lied to us. … This drawback needs to be fastened. This has to finish.”
A number of attorneys representing firms denied licenses to provide low-THC oil spoke out in help of the invoice through the two hearings.
Kellen Carr, representing Georgia Bioscience Analysis, one of many firms protesting denial of its license utility, mentioned limiting the variety of licenses will drive up the prices of the oil, which isn’t coated by insurance coverage.
“The one factor that retains prices down on this business is market competitors,” she mentioned.
Kristen Goodman, representing Symphony Medical, one other protester, mentioned the six licenses that have been granted went to massive out-of-state firms with plans for hashish oil-producing operations concentrated in Center Georgia.
“The north half of the state shouldn’t be represented in any respect, neither is the southwest nook,” added Wesley Dunn, representing Revolution Georgia, one other firm denied a license.
Andrew Turnage, govt director of the Georgia Entry to Medical Hashish Fee, didn’t reply to an e-mail requesting touch upon Powell’s invoice. However throughout a fee board assembly final month, he mentioned the fee helps increasing the variety of licenses.
Powell’s invoice obtained some pushback through the hearings over whether or not granting extra licenses would imply caving in to the specter of lawsuits from firms denied licenses.
“I’m deeply involved we’re rewarding individuals merely for being able to file a lawsuit,” mentioned Rep. Michael Smith, D-Marietta.
However others on the subcommittee mentioned rising licenses to get low-THC oil to sufferers sooner relatively than later ought to be the overriding consideration.
“We’ve obtained kids who’re sick and hurting throughout this state and wish this to make a distinction of their life,” mentioned Rep. Rick Williams, R-Milledgeville. “We have to make this occur.”
This story is out there via a information partnership with Capitol Beat Information Service, a venture of the Georgia Press Instructional Basis.