Ga. board approves licenses for 5 medical marijuana dispensaries
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Ga. board approves licenses for 5 medical marijuana dispensaries

Jul 01, 2023

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MACON, Ga. — People with medical marijuana prescriptions could finally have a place to fill them in Macon.

A state board Wednesday afternoon approved licenses for five dispensaries. They're set to be the first in the state. One of them is on Riverside Drive.

Ten years ago, former state legislator Allen Peake got a call he'll never forget. Janea Cox was the caller.

"Reached out to me about her daughter, Haleigh Cox, who was having 100 to 200 seizures a day," Peake remembered.

Doctors told Cox Haleigh wouldn't make it past the age of 5. They tried one last-ditch remedy: cannabis oil. It worked, but there was a problem. It wasn't yet legal in Georgia.

Peake filed a bill in 2014 to legalize the medication. Gov. Nathan Deal signed Haleigh's Hope into law the next year. Peake says that created a new problem.

"You had the ability to be able to possess medical cannabis oil, if you were properly registered with the state. But you didn't have an ability to be able to access it," Peake explained.

That was the case until Wednesday. Three of the five dispensaries approved belong to Florida-based Trulieve. The approval puts them in line for an official inspection, which they hope will lead to distribution.

"For these 26,000 folks who already have their medical cards, to be able to start distributing," said Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers.

Nearly 1,500 of those 26,000 patients live in Central Georgia. Rivers says the approval is a 'game-changer' for patients who depend on low-THC cannabis oil, the state-approved form of medical marijuana.

"Such an exciting day for folks when we are able to open the doors. And really give them a place to come, not only to buy products, but also get education," she said.

Rivers says after the inspection, they'll need to get a business license. Beyond that, she says they're ready to open, though she could not say exactly when they'll be allowed to.

Trulieve already operates a facility where they grow the marijuana plant in Adel. The company's other dispensaries approved Wednesday will be in Marietta and Pooler.

Botanical Sciences LLC is another cannabis producer that got approval Wednesday for dispensaries in those same two cities.