Georgia House and Senate Advance Two Different Bills to Revive Medical Cannabis Program
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Georgia House and Senate Advance Two Different Bills to Revive Medical Cannabis Program

Both proposals aim to jumpstart the production and sale of low-THC oil in the state after licensing disputes delayed the rollout of the program.

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March 16, 2022

Georgia lawmakers have been busy working on proposals to jumpstart the production and sale of low-THC cannabis oil in the state after licensing disputes delayed the rollout of the program.

Two different bills to revive the state’s medical cannabis program passed the House and Senate March 15, the Crossover Day deadline for legislation to pass at least one chamber of the Georgia Legislature to stay alive this year, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

RELATED: Georgia Lawmakers Consider Legislation to Redo Medical Cannabis Licensing Process

The state’s roughly 20,000 registered patients have suffered years of regulatory limbo that allowed them to possess—but not legally purchase—the medical cannabis oil, which can contain no more than 5% THC under state law.

Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation in 2019 to legalize the production and sale of the oil, and a new regulatory body, the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission, licensed six companies last year to do the job.

The rollout of the program then stalled when 16 unsuccessful applicants challenged the licensing process.

RELATED: Georgia’s Small Farmers Shut Out During ‘Secretive’ Cannabis Licensing Process, Advocate Says

The bills that cleared the Georgia House and Senate Tuesday aim to get the program back on track, though each piece of legislation contains a different proposal to do so.

The measure approved by the House, Rep. Bill Werkhiser’s (R-Glennville) House Bill 1425, would essentially restart the state’s medical cannabis licensing program, throwing out the six licenses that were tentatively awarded last year, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

“I wish I could say that we’re in a good spot, but we’re not,” Werkheiser told the news outlet. “If we do nothing, we’re in a bad position, and if we do something, it’s not so great either. But I think we’ve got something that will move the process forward. This issue is too important to get wrong.”

H.B. 1425 cleared the House in a 169-5 vote.

The proposal approved by the Senate, S.B. 609, would set a May 31 deadline for the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission to license six companies that had previously applied for licenses, but not necessarily the six that were tentatively granted licenses last year, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

S.B. 609 passed the Senate in a unanimous 52-0 vote.

Both bills must now be considered by the opposite chamber of the Legislature. This year’s legislative session wraps up April 4, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.