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From bad to worse: Medical cannabis less available than ever in Georgia

Legalized seven years ago, activist sounds off as lawmakers consider ways to break the logjam.

ATLANTA — Some users of medical cannabis said it’s harder now than ever to obtain the oil the state legalized seven years ago.  

Georgia lawmakers thought they made it easier for medical patients to obtain medical cannabis when they legalized it in 2015 and even passed a law to license six companies to grow and produce it in the state in 2019.  

But that stalled under the weight of litigation – and eight months after a state commission awarded six grow licenses, nobody in Georgia is legally producing medical cannabis.  

Meantime, out-of-state sources have dried up, according to medical cannabis advocate Dale Jackson of LaGrange, who needs it for his autistic son.

"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."

Georgia lawmakers are trying to fix the logjam, which stopped the production of medical cannabis before it ever started.  

Seven years ago, the state legalized medical cannabis with great fanfare.

Last July, the state issued six licenses to grow medical cannabis and days later, sixteen protests were filed, most from companies passed over for licenses.

One bill in the house would expand the number of licenses from six to 12, and another bill expands the number of licenses from six to 22.

Another bill could allow the governor to temporarily award licenses instead of the Georgia access to medical cannabis commission.

Jackson said to the committee he used to travel to Colorado to buy it and bring it to Georgia himself illegally -- violating federal interstate drug laws. But he said now; out-of-state dispensaries are afraid they'll lose their licenses if they sell cannabis oil to him.

"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." 

Jackson said to 11Alive News that it's ten times harder now to obtain cannabis oil in Georgia than before legalization. He is backing the bill to expand the number of legal growers in Georgia from six to 22.

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