Georgia Lawmakers Advance Senate Proposal to Rework State’s Medical Cannabis Program
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Georgia Lawmakers Advance Senate Proposal to Rework State’s Medical Cannabis Program

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee has scrapped a House proposal to revive the program while approving a version that the full Senate passed last week.

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March 23, 2022

The Georgia Senate is standing behind its proposed solution to the state’s stalled medical cannabis program.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee scrapped a House proposal to revive the program March 22 while approving a version that the full Senate passed last week, according to a Capitol Beat report.

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

Georgia’s roughly 20,000 registered patients have spent years in regulatory limbo that allowed them to possess, but not legally purchase, medical cannabis oil containing a maximum of 5% THC.

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 serve the market.

Sixteen unsuccessful applicants then challenged the licensing process, essentially stalling the rollout of the program.

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

Earlier this month, the Georgia House and Senate passed two different bills to jumpstart the production and sale of medical cannabis oil in the state.

The House approved House Bill 1425, which would scrap the six business licenses that were tentatively awarded last year and restart the licensing process from scratch.

The Senate approved Senate Bill 609, which 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.

Both bills were then sent to the opposite chamber of the Legislature for consideration.

“We want the commission to do their danged job by May 31,” Sen. Ben Watson (R-Savannah), the chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee, told Capitol Beat. “That’s the message we’re sending.”

The full Senate could readopt its version of the legislation by the end of this week, according to the news outlet, but the differences between the Senate and House bills could send the measures to a joint conference committee during the final days of this year’s legislative session.