ATLANTA — The state’s medical cannabis production program is stalled again after a court action suspended the state-issued grow licenses to two companies. It means that while medical marijuana is legal in Georgia – it’s still illegal to buy it because nobody is producing it in-state.
Last week, a south Georgia medical cannabis company granted one of the state’s two new grow licenses and gave a tour of a facility already in place in south Georgia – documented on Agriculture Commissioner Candidate Tyler Harper's Facebook page.
However, neither it nor another company licensed by the state medical cannabis board can produce their product yet– thanks to a court, which ruled that other companies that applied for licenses got shut out without due process.
"It's something we knew would be an uphill battle. We knew it would be something that would take some time," Micah Gravely said (R-Douglasville), who is leaving the general assembly after working for years on medical cannabis legislation.
Earlier this year, some lawmakers tried to expand the number of valuable grow licenses issued in order to reduce the amount of litigation.
But, the legislature adjourned this spring with the issue unresolved.
Gravely said the problem now is that companies that weren't awarded licenses are stopping production with court challenges. Attorneys for some of those companies said their litigation will benefit patients long-term, by giving patients more choices.
This year, more than 20 percent of House and Senate members chose not to run for re-election. The new faces who replace them can expect another push for a legislative solution to the legal logjam.
"I think it will be very difficult moving forward," Gravley said.
It’s unclear how those 50+ new lawmakers will tilt on medical cannabis – an issue that has strong support among Republicans and Democrats – but not enough to actually make the system work.