ATLANTA, GA (WTOC) - The Georgia House and Senate reached an agreement Tuesday giving access to low THC-oil for patients in Georgia.
The Senate approved the changes made by a conference committee in a 34-20 vote. The House approved it in a much more overwhelming majority with a 147-16 vote shortly before 11:45 Tuesday night.
The sponsor of the bill in the House said the industry will be tightly regulated by a 7-person commission. The agreement reached by the House and Senate allows UGA and Fort Valley State to grow the marijuana and produce the low-THC oil. Georgia can also import the oil from other states.
There is an opportunity for private-sector companies to get involved in the cultivation as well. The state will give six licenses to grow, with two large licenses allowing companies to grow up to 100,000 square feet of cannabis. Four small licenses will allow companies to grow 50,000 square feet of cannabis.
The oil will be distributed in pharmacies first, and the commission will be able to decide whether to open dispensaries if necessary. The State Board of Pharmacies will oversee the distribution at the pharmacies.
Late Tuesday, Governor Brian Kemp said he supported the agreement, which allows about 8,400 patients to have access to oil with less than five percent THC. Current state law allows the oil for 16 conditions.
“Over the years, I’ve met with children who are battling chronic, debilitating diseases. I’ve heard from parents who are struggling with access and losing hope,” Kemp said. “This compromise legislation is carefully crafted to provide access to medical cannabis oil to those in need. This is simply the right thing to do.”
HB 324 initially proposed 10 cultivation licenses and 60 dispensaries of the low-THC oil. The Senate came down on that, permitting two cultivation licenses and 28 dispensaries.
Detractors say it opens the floodgates to recreational use. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk for signature.