Although the law took effect in July 2019, the seven members of the commission given the task of overseeing the program weren’t appointed until last November.
Under the medical cannabis legislation, businesses granted Class 1 licenses will be able to grow marijuana in up to 100,000 square feet of space. Class 2 licensees will be limited to no more than 50,000 square feet.
Patients eligible to receive cannabis oil with a doctor’s prescription include those suffering from a wide range of diseases, including seizure disorders and Parkinson’s.
The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission voted Monday to release a Request for Proposals that will lead to the granting of two “Class 1” licenses and four “Class 2” licenses to grow marijuana indoors and manufacture the oil derived from the plants.
The 2019 bill was a follow-up to legislation the General Assembly passed in 2015 that legalized possession of low-THC cannabis oil in Georgia by patients suffering from certain diseases enrolled in a registry overseen by the state Department of Public Health.
TheraTrue representatives suggested the Louisville plant would employ 60 people in direct local positions at the facility, growing and cultivating the plants indoors and processing medical cannabis oil from them. This is only part of the expected 358 direct, indirect and induced jobs in the region that would likely support TheraTrue operations. In all, the plant is expected to lead to $14 million in wages and economic impact annually and just over $1 million in annual sales and property taxes.
Two other companies, Trulieve GA Inc and Botanical Sciences LLC, won licenses to cultivate the oil on 100,000 square-foot indoor growing spaces.
The unanimous decision by the board has long been anticipated by the 15,000 or so Georgians who have been authorized since 2015 to use medical marijuana oil to treat conditions including seizure disorders, Parkinson’s disease, chronic pain and terminal cancers, but have not had a legal way to obtain these medications.
“Our team is focused on using science and innovation to implement a world-class medical cannabis company,” TheraTrue founder Dr. Paul Judge said at that time. “We are committed to prioritizing safety and security as we work diligently to obtain a license that will allow us to provide Georgians suffering from chronic medical conditions with a much-needed treatment option.”
“Jefferson County is extremely excited about the opportunity to be part of Georgia’s new medical cannabis industry,” County Commission Chairman Mitchell McGraw wrote in a letter to this paper dated April 17, 2021. “This new industry could make a deep impact in our local economy and we are happy to be working with TheraTrue to help make that happen.”
The facilities these companies create will grow the plants indoors, extract cannabis oil and manufacture prescription-grade products in the forms of pills, creams, trans-dermal patches and oils that are not permitted to contain more than 5 percent THC, the chemical that produces the euphoric high sought by recreational users of marijuana.
In April of 2019, Gov. Brian Kemp signed House Bill 324 that created a limited marijuana industry allowing companies to grow, manufacture and sell medical-grade cannabis oil as products to pharmacies that will be licensed by the State Pharmacy Board to distribute these products to the state’s growing number of registered medical marijuana users. Since 2015 the state has allowed people suffering from certain illnesses and chronic pain to possess cannabis oil, but until now it prohibited buying, selling or transporting these products. The state still prohibits smoking or vaping marijuana products.
Jefferson County Development Authority’s Executive Director Greg Sellars has said that where many companies looking to locate in rural Georgia seek incentives such as local tax abatement, TheraTrue only asked for support. Any financial incentives it would receive would come from the state for locating in a rural, economically depressed area, not from local government.
TheraTrue Georgia LLC is one of four companies that will be licensed to operate facilities with 50,000 square feet of growing room. The others are FFD GA Holdings, Natures GA LLC and Trevana Remedy Inc.