Thursday, February 29, 2024

Georgia’s MMJ Patients Still Forced To Rely On Illicit Market 7 Years After Legalization

MMJ patients in the Peach State say that obtaining medical cannabis these past several years has been more difficult than it was before legalization.

By Nina Zdinjak

Cannabis advocates around the planet are pushing for the legalization of the plant in an effort to make it more available, and of course, safe. Unfortunately, legalization is not always enough. With it, comes burdensome regulations and often complicated cannabis programs that take an inordinate amount of time to set up.

When developing their legal programs, U.S. states tend to look at how other states have successfully undertaken the process to avoid making mistakes that others have made. But, as they say, easier said than done.

Best States For Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
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For example, Georgia lawmakers probably had good intentions to make medical cannabis available once it became legal nearly seven years ago. Unfortunately, MMJ patients in the Peach State say that obtaining medical cannabis these past several years has been more difficult than it was before legalization, reported Alive.

In 2019, the state passed a law meant to enable the licensing of up to six companies to cultivate and produce medical marijuana. But the legislation was stalled under the weight of litigation after litigation; sixteen protests were filed mostly by companies that were passed over for licenses.

Georgia only issued six licenses last July, and alas, after eight months, no one in the state is legally producing medical marijuana.

‘Real Lives Are Affected’

Unfortunately, that’s not all.

According to medical cannabis advocate Dale Jackson of LaGrange, who needs medical marijuana for the treatment of his autistic son, out-of-state sources are drying up, forcing those in need to turn to illicit sellers.

“None of you understand how I can legally obtain oil because legally I cannot,” Jackson told a House committee this week. “Anywhere in the country. Colorado, nowhere.”

Jackson further confirmed to the committee that he used to travel to Colorado to buy it, and then illegally brought the oil back to Georgia by himself. But now, it looks like out-of-state dispensaries are refusing to sell marijuana oil to him, out of concern that they could lose their licenses.

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“Then I go to the next state. And the next one. You know where I end up?” Jackson said to the committee. “I end up about a block and a half from (the state capitol), buying my son’s medicine from a drug dealer.”

Jackson added, “So that’s what seven years looks like to me. That’s real, people. Real lives are affected by this.”

buying marijuana
Photo by athima tongloom/Getty Images

What’s The Solution? 

Currently, there are three proposed bills that could potentially resolve this important matter. One bill in the house proposes expanding the number of legal licenses from 6 to 12, while another bill aims to raise the number of licenses to 22. Jackson is supporting the second one.

There’s also a bill that would enable the governor to temporarily award licenses instead of the state’s medical cannabis commission.

It looks like any proposal is better than the current situation, so hopefully, whichever is approved, the situation will get easier and safer for Georgia’s medical marijuana patients and Jackson’s autistic son.

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.


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