- Hammond Lewis
2 Bills Pass That Could Change Georgia’s Medical Marijuana Program
The Georgia medical marijuana program promised access to low-THC cannabis oil for patients with qualifying conditions back in 2015, though problems over licensing and commission practices have caused significant delays.
Now, in 2022, legislators are looking to revisit how Georgia’s medical marijuana program operates, and lawmakers have introduced several pieces of legislation that would speed up the program for the Peach State.
Though there are a handful of bills introduced, two bills have managed to pass that would change the GA medical cannabis program. With one bill passing in the Senate and one in the House, Georgians may see big changes to the medical marijuana program in 2022.
HB1425 Passes in House & Senate
HB1425 Gets GA MMJ Program on Track, Resets Production Licenses
Georgia House Bill 1425 originally aimed to get the medical marijuana program back on track by requiring the State to obtain low-THC cannabis oil “from any available legal source” by August 1 and provide the oil to patients by August 15th.
Currently, the Senate has offered an alternative version of the bill that removes the clauses that required the State to get low-THC oil from the bill, leaving only the sections related to licensing.
The bill originally reset the production license system that the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission publicly fumbled, allowing applicants who previously submitted applications to re-apply without paying fees for a second time and required new licenses to be approved by August 1st.
The Senate alternative proposal removes the bulk of the bill that restructures the licensing, keeping essentially only a clause that requires the State to approve licenses by May 31st, 2022.
The House passed HB1425 with a 169-5 vote on 3/15/2022, and the Senate passed the bill 53-0 on 3/28/2022, though revisions have been suggested and debated between the two bodies of law.
What Will Happen With HB1425?
The House and Senate haven’t come to an agreement on the alternative bill structure, so HB1425 is essentially at a standstill for now.
The House insists that the bulk of the original language of HB1425 remain, while the Senate is looking for an extremely different version of the bill.
It appears that the Senate wants the original licenses to be approved while removing the responsibility of the State to get medical marijuana into the hands of patients.
The House appears to want to restructure the licensing process altogether, requiring companies to re-apply and go through a more transparent approval system.
And problems exist on both sides of the argument. If the entire Georgia licensing process is reset, it could take a longer time to get the system operational, though the provision that the State find and provide cannabis oil to patients in the meantime only creates a small burden for the State to pick up where the Commission has failed.
The Senate is likely looking for less burden and less responsibility on the State, though without a proper restructure of the licensing process, the legal complications will continue to stall the production of low-THC cannabis oil until more licenses are approved by the State.
SB609 Passes in Georgia Senate
SB609 Gets a Unanimous Vote From Senate
Senate Bill 609 was another bill that originally started as a larger construct of rearranging the Cannabis Commission, requiring the Commission to revisit the applications and approve them by certain dates based on merit.
The bill also aimed to add additional cultivation licenses based on patient registry numbers and establish a new queue for the added licenses.
The bulk of this bill has also been dwindled down heavily, with the only meaningful clause left from the original bill requiring the Commission to issue the initial licenses by no later than May 31st, 2022, similar to how HB1425’s language ended up.
What Happens Next for Georgia’s Medical Marijuana Program?
The Senate has successfully removed most of the important parts of both HB1425 and SB609, effectively making them both nearly identical.
The key interest is in approving the initial licenses by a certain date for the Senate, and it doesn’t seem like anything else from either bill will make it through in a critical way, although the House is rejecting the Senate revisions for HB1425 at the moment.
It’s important to note that the Commission licensing process is still under legal review, so any changes that legislators make concerning the practices or licensing procedures can affect those proceedings, so the Senate may be wanting to avoid getting further drug into legal red tape.
That gives little excuse for getting the program running efficiently, though, because the lack of actionable legislation will continue the delays we’ve already seen for the medical marijuana program in Georgia.
Getting the initial licenses approved only handles one of the many obstacles facing Georgia cultivators, and without adding additional cultivators, Georgia would send a clear message that they don’t care about the proceedings, they care about getting this over with.
That kind of approach leaves a lot on the table for patients who are desperately waiting for lawmakers to get over the bureaucracy of the State’s potential cash cow, and ultimately it only grants access to applicants who were approved under suspicious and questionable circumstances.
Depending on how the Senate and House work together on restructuring the language of either bill, we’ll likely see some headway with decision making soon, and the House doesn’t seem as willing to empty HB1425 of its meaningful clauses as the Senate appears to be.
Get Your Georgia Marijuana Card
The Georgia medical marijuana program is set to allow patients with qualifying conditions access to low-THC cannabis oil. Currently, the State is at a standstill, and lawmakers are working to introduce legislation that can speed up the system and get cannabis medicine into the hands of patients.
We will be processing medical marijuana certifications as soon as the system is live for Georgia patients.
Reserve your appointment today and get $25 off when we start processing applications!
Feel free to give us a call at (866) 781-5606, and we can help answer your questions about getting medical marijuana in Georgia