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State lawmakers frustrated over slow rollout of medical marijuana

Georgia lawmakers expressed frustration Thursday that the state’s medical marijuana program has yet to yield a drop of cannabis oil nine months after Gov. Brian Kemp announced a plan to break a logjam of lawsuits.

The Georgia Commission for Access to Medical Cannabis voted in September to award the first two of six low-THC cannabis oil production licenses the General Assembly authorized in legislation the General Assembly passed in 2019. But those licenses remain on hold until the commission adopts rules governing the state’s medical cannabis program.

The other four licenses haven’t even been awarded because of lawsuits mounted by 16 companies that weren’t chosen when the commission tentatively awarded the six licenses in 2021.

State Rep. Alan Powell from Hartwell is a member of the study committee. He blamed the legislature’s failure to pass a bill he introduced last year aimed at heading off the potential for lengthy litigation by the 16 losing bidders by increasing the number of licenses to be awarded from six to 22.

The governor has directed money to expedite a hearing on the legal protests, and the commission is moving forward with developing rules for the program.