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Georgia's new medical marijuana program stalls six months after the law was signed





ATLANTA ̵

1; Six months after Prime Minister Brian Kemp signed a law allowing companies to grow and selling medical marijuana in Georgia for the first time remains program halted because he and other top politicians still have not appointed members of a commission to oversee the expansion, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Aides to Kemp, Prime Minister Geoff Duncan and House Speaker David Ralston have not said why there are no members of the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission yet. But until they do, the expansion expands effectively.

Legislation, House Bill 324, gave the seven-member commission extensive oversight of the state's medical marijuana operation, including choosing which businesses can grow the facility and develop the licensing requirements that retailers must meet to sell it.

a cornerstone of legislation that creates a new but limited marijuana industry in Georgia. The legislation was celebrated as a milestone for patients who were previously allowed to use the drug – but had to break state and federal laws to buy it.

A potential reason for the lag time is that the commission is really a startup, unlike other boards and agencies with built-in procedures and existing members. State officials say they have been flooded with applications – more than 50 candidates have emerged for the sites.

The law also imposes strict employment requirements, including a rule that commission members must have no interest or other financial interest in a cannabis oil company during their term – and five years after it ends.

Still, the delay is a setback for patients and their families who celebrated the passing of the law with the hope that it would provide as needed treatment for serious seizures, terminal cancers, Parkinson's disease and other illnesses.

"It is extremely frustrating for medically fragile patients to finally get a bill allowing medical cannabis oil distribution, and then still wait for Governor Kemp to set up the commission," said Blaine Cloud, whose daughter Alaina is suffering from a severe form of epilepsy that can be treated by the drug.

"Registered patients and many others are still suffering every day – and will continue to suffer since it will take time to get companies licensed when the commission is finally established."

This story was written by Greg Bluestein of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.


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