In the ever-changing landscape of cannabis legislation across the United States, Georgia stands as one of the few states holding firm against full-scale legalization. Some special cases include Haleigh’s Hope and some cities such as Atlanta, which we’ll discuss below.
At the time of this publication in October 2023, cannabis is classified as a Schedule I substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), this means it’s considered illegal at the federal level. While this presents a challenging obstacle, there’s still hope in Georgia for those seeking to navigate the state’s complex cannabis laws, particularly in the context of dispensaries.
In this post, we’ll delve into the complexities of many Georgia cannabis laws. Let’s discover Georgia’s cannabis landscape, exploring the nuances surrounding consumption, possession, cultivation, and selling. A few dispensaries hope to open in some areas, but the rules are tight. Take a look below.
*disclaimer: this is not legal advice and we are not a legal platform. All information within this article is based on research to provide our users with information about Georgia cannabis laws in an easy to read guide. Keep in mind that rules/laws are ever-changing and could impact the validity of the information below. This content was last updated in October 2023.
Legal Terms of Medical Cannabis & Medical Marijuana Explained
In regular terminology, the terms “medical cannabis” and “medical marijuana” are frequently used interchangeably, but the Georgia medical cannabis laws draw a significant distinction between the two.
“Medical marijuana” pertains to the state’s registration programs that allow patients to possess, grow, and smoke cannabis for medical purposes. “Medical cannabis”, on the other hand, is used to describe Georgia’s low-THC oil patient registry.
When navigating Georgia’s medical cannabis laws, understanding these two terms lays the foundation for individuals seeking to access specific cannabis forms to best suit their medical needs.
Is Weed Legal in Georgia?
According to Georgia weed laws, recreational weed remains illegal in Georgia. Possession of over an ounce of marijuana can result in felony charges. In spite of prohibition, recreational marijuana use, more specifically, smoking remains prevalent. Some cities have taken steps to decriminalize the possession of recreational marijuana of up to 1 oz. However, fines are still imposed, while avoiding jail time or criminal record. It’s vital to understand that these decriminalization efforts only pertain to possession , and don’t transcribe into the legalization of selling or distribution of marijuana. They aim to protect individuals in possession from criminalization instead of the legalization of the substance.
What Georgia Weed Laws Mean for Dispensaries & Cultivation
Under Georgia marijuana law, recreational dispensaries don’t exist. Therefore, the consequences for marijuana-related offenses are severe. Possession of less than 10 pounds can result in felony charges. Most notably, growing less than 10 pounds of marijuana involves penalties comparable to distribution, with possible sentences ranging anywhere from one to ten years, accompanied by a consequential fine. While some cities have decriminalized the possession of up to one ounce, this doesn’t extend to the establishment of recreational dispensaries. So, Georgia’s legal environment remains nonpermissive in terms of recreational cannabis. The fact that there are zero legalized recreational dispensaries in the state of Georgia reflects its continued obedience to strict marijuana regulations. It’s critical to understand and follow these laws to prevent any legal consequences.
What About Atlanta? Is Weed Legal in Atlanta Georgia?
In the landscape of weed laws in Georgia, there isn’t an entirely uniform view across the state. Several cities including Atlanta, Athens, Clarkston, South Fulton, Statesboro, Stonecrest, and Savannah, have taken steps toward decriminalizing the possession of up to one ounce of recreational marijuana. However, it’s important to understand that this decriminalization isn’t one and the same with full legalization.
Decriminalization serves as protection to those in possession of small quantities of cannabis. This prevents them from facing criminal charges and the possibility of severe legal consequences. Although this doesn’t open a gateway to recreational dispensary operations in these cities or the state as a whole. The stance that Georgia has on marijuana remains largely conservative, with tight regulations that govern its usage and distribution. That said, while some cities have taken steps towards decriminalization, legalization across the state remains an ever-evolving discussion.
What About Medical Marijuana?
Georgia medical marijuana laws pertain to medical marijuana but with ironclad regulations. A significant milestone, the Haleigh’s Hope Act was established in 2015, and made this all possible.Under this act, patients with specific medical conditions can access low-THC oil. However, this is a far cry from the extensive medical marijuana laws present in some other states.
For medical marijuana in Georgia, a doctor’s recommendation must be obtained. Under this law, 20oz of THC oil is permitted for registered patients. On a dry weight basis, the oil must contain less than 5% THC and at least 5% cannabidiol (CBD). Additionally, the CBD content must be equal to or more than the THC content.
While this system allows determinate access to medical marijuana, it doesn’t give the freedom seen in states with more in-depth medical marijuana programs. Due to the tight limits. patients don’t have access to products with higher THC levels and therefore, Georgia isn’t considered a full medical marijuana state.
In 2019, Georgia regulated the in-state production of low-THC oil. To ensure reliable access to this medication, patients must be registered and obtain a Low-THC Oil Registry Card.
What this Means for Dispensaries and Cultivation
The approach to medical cannabis in Georgia, comes with its regulations. Unless you have a valid dispensary license, it’s illegal to sell medical cannabis. The only way to distribute low THC oil to patients with certain medical conditions is by a licensed business. Businesses can apply for licenses but the process is competitive.
A maximum of five dispensaries are chosen by the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission for each business. Licensed businesses have the potential to serve over 27,000 registered users in the state.
Officially the first business opened in April 2023. Due to the recent launch, any detailed information regarding sales and revenue aren’t available at this time. Interested businesses in applying for a dispensary license, can apply here.
Georgia’s medical cannabis program is still in its early years and is subject to evolving regulations and expansions. From the state’s conservative approach to a limited number of dispensaries, Georgia medical cannabis laws set it apart from other states. The regulatory framework has a goal to provide medical cannabis to patients with qualified conditions.
How to Get a Medical Marijuanas GA Card?
Acquiring a Low THC oil medical marijuana GA card involves several straightforward steps:
- Patients or their caregivers who believe they qualify should discuss it with a healthcare provider who can recommend the use of low THC oil.
- If approved, the patient’s or caregiver’s information will be entered into the Georgia Department of Public Health’s secure “Low THC Oil Registry.” Then, a Low THC Oil Card will be issued to the patient or caregiver.
- Physicians can complete the registration process online.
- Once the cards are ready, patients and caregivers will receive a notification. These cards are available for pickup in about 15 days at one of the 18 public health offices that distribute Low THC Oil Cards.
- To check the status of the Low THC Oil Card, both physicians and patients listed in the Low THC Oil Registry can use the “Check Card Status” link.
The cost for this card is $25, and they’re valid for up to two years from the date of issue. After this period, cardholders must talk to their healthcare provider to confirm their continued eligibility and update any personal information in the registry.
Conditions Covered by Georgia Law for Medical Cannabis Use
Under Georgia marijuana law, specific conditions are outlined that make patients eligible for the Low THC Oil Registry. Special conditions that qualify patients include:
Adults with Specific Diseases: Individuals diagnosed with any of the following severe medical conditions are eligible for the registry:
- Cancer (end stage or treatment-induced wasting illness or intractable nausea and vomiting).
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (severe or end stage).
- Seizure disorders associated with epilepsy or trauma-related head injuries.
- Multiple sclerosis (severe or end stage).
- Crohn’s disease.
- Mitochondrial disease.
- Parkinson’s disease (severe or end stage).
- Sickle cell disease (severe or end stage).
- Tourette’s syndrome (severe).
- Autism spectrum disorder (patients aged 18 or older, or patients under 18 diagnosed with severe autism).
- Epidermolysis bullosa.
- Alzheimer’s disease (severe or end stage).
- AIDS (severe or end stage).
- Peripheral neuropathy (severe or end stage).
- Patients in a hospice program, either inpatient or outpatient.
- Intractable pain.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder due to direct exposure to or witnessing a trauma (patients aged 18 or older).
Guardians of Eligible Patients: Adult legal guardians or parents of minors with these qualifying conditions can also register to obtain a Low THC medical marijuanas GA card on behalf of the patient.
What if You Have a Medical Card from Another State?
Georgia medical marijuana laws are the deciding factor in terms of recognizing a valid registration card from another state, but certain conditions must be met. In order to qualify, you’re required to:
- Be in Possession of a Valid Out-of-State Card: You must lawfully possess a valid registration card issued by another state.
- Meet Legal Restrictions: The card you hold from another state must allow the same possession of low THC oil as Georgia’s laws.
- Be a Resident in Georgia Less Than 45 Days: You must’ve been residing in Georgia for less than 45 days.
It’s important to understand that there’s no interchange between Georgia and other states in terms of medical cannabis programs. The recognition of out-of-state cards is controlled by meeting these specific principles.
Latest Development for Potential Medical Dispensaries
In a revolutionary development, Georgia is to become the first state in the nation to allow medical marijuana products available at independent pharmacies. The Georgia Board of Pharmacy has begun the process of accepting applications for this. According to the Associated Press, around 120 pharmacies have expressed their interests in Botanical Sciences medications (one of the state’s two licensed production companies). The official rollout of medical marijuana products in pharmacies is expected in the coming weeks. However, the approval from the board will be conditional on inspections following the application submission.
This is a momentous step in expanding access for more patients to obtain Low THC oil, thus, complementing the state’s efforts alongside the seven dispensaries that have been operational since April. This highlights Georgia’s commitment to offering greater access for patients to medical marijuana within the cannabis laws in Georgia.
Steps for Potential Dispensaries Under Georgia Cannabis Laws
As of October 2023, the continuously changing landscape of cannabis laws in Georgia have brought notable changes and opportunities. In fact, these changes provide insight into the latest developments surrounding the cannabis industry within the state.
If you’re thinking about entering this budding field, it’s necessary to understand the current legal framework, explore the potential for the sale and production of edibles, and navigate the steps to take to become a licensed dispensary. Below, we’ll look at those steps under Georgia cannabis laws to help you stay in-the-know about this evolving industry:
Understand the Current Landscape of Georgia Cannabis Laws in 2023
As of 2023, weed laws in Georgia have been subject to a series of proposed changes. In fact, many house bills have been introduced over the years, but never passed. One of the most high-profile legislative endeavors is:
Georgia’s Hope Act (SB195):
Year: Passed on April 2, 2019
What it covers: House Bill 324, also referred to as “Georgia’s Hope Act,” authorized the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission to oversee the regulated licensing of limited, in-state cultivation, production, manufacturing, and sale of low-THC oil, as well as its dispensing to registered patients. It’s also used interchangeably with the Senate Bill (SB 195), with the aim of allowing adults to legally purchase up to a quarter ounce of cannabis from licensed cannabis dispensaries.
While the legislation’s descriptions have been shortened here, it’s important to understand that the bill’s actual texts are more detailed. Pending legislation and proposed bills also contribute to the developing landscape of cannabis laws in Georgia. Some of these proposals seek to amend the existing regulations and expand the availability and usage of low-THC oil.
For the most current information on pending legislation, refer to official Georgia legislative resources. Importantly, the status of bills may change over time, so staying informed about the latest developments is vital for individuals and businesses operating within Georgia.
Know What You Can Produce/Sell: Are Edibles Legal in Georgia?
Georgia medical cannabis laws are notably tight, and this also extends to specifications pertaining to the products available for use and sale. As of now, the sale of certain cannabis products, such as flower, vapes, CBD, and hemp, remains prohibited.
When Senate Bill 195 (SB195) introduced changes that gave way to a more diversified range of cannabis-based products to be sold and used in Georgia legally. Under SB195, patients with valid Low THC Oil Cards secured access to various cannabis-infused products, including tinctures, patches, lotions, capsules, edibles, and oils. These products still must contain less than 5% THC on a dry weight scale and 5% cannabidiol (CBD).
Patients possessing a Low THC Oil Card are allowed to have up to 20 oz of Low-THC oil at any time. This is a significant amount and provides those eligible with a more expanded supply of their prescribed medication.
However, it’s important to note that only Low-THC oil meets the specific standards outlined by Georgia weed laws, and is currently permitted for sale by licensed companies.
Apply for a License
The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission oversees the licensing process for various categories of licenses under the state’s medical marijuana program. These licenses allow individuals and businesses to participate in the regulated production, growing, and dispensing of Low-THC oil to registered patients. Below are some details about these licenses:
Class 1 Production License: This license allows the cultivation of cannabis in indoor facilities for the production of low THC oil. The cultivation space is limited to 100,000 square feet.
Cost: The cost of a Class 1 Production License includes a non-refundable application fee of $25,000, an initial license fee of $200,000, and an annual renewal fee of $100,000.
Class 2 Production License: Akin to the Class 1 license, the Class 2 Production License authorizes the cultivation of cannabis in indoor facilities, but the cultivation space is limited to 50,000 square feet.
Cost: The cost of a Class 2 Production License consists of a non-refundable application fee of $5,000, an initial license fee of $100,000, and an annual renewal fee of $50,000.
Dispensing License: This license is vital to the dispensing of Low-THC oil to registered patients. Dispensing licenses are issued in increments of every 10,000 patients added to the registry.
Cost: The fee to apply for a Dispensing License is $5000, and the license fees also vary depending on the tier of the county in which the dispensary is located. The annual renewal fees for dispensing licenses also vary by county tier.
What the Future Looks Like for Georgia Cannabis Laws
The outlook of Georgia legalization 2023 is marked by many legislative efforts aimed at addressing a range of aspects on marijuana legalization and regulation. Here’s a look below at the current state of these efforts:
*SB263 Introduced to the 2021-2022 session of the Georgia Senate, SB 263, titled the “Georgia Retail Marijuana Code,” sought to regulate the retail marijuana market for adults. Under this bill, adults aged 21 and older would have been allowed to purchase limited quantities of marijuana from licensed retail outlets. It outlined licensing requirements, cultivation regulations, and penalties for violations.
Status: Dead as of April 2022
*SR165 This Senate Resolution proposed a constitutional amendment to legalize and regulate marijuana, with voters deciding on the amendment in the 2022 ballot.
Status: Dead as of February 2021
*HR 281 Representative David Clark sponsored HR 281, a House Resolution that aimed to amend the Georgia Constitution to enable the General Assembly to legalize and regulate marijuana. It also proposed taxation on marijuana production and sales, alongside personal marijuana use for adults aged 21 and above and expungement of prior marijuana convictions. The resolution aimed to place a referendum on the November 2022 ballot for voters to decide on the amendment. HR 281 was introduced on March 1, 2021, but it did not progress beyond the committee stage.
Status: HR 281 was introduced on March 1, 2021, but it did not progress beyond the committee stage.
SB 77 This bill sought to amend the Georgia Controlled Substances Act by reducing penalties for marijuana possession. It aimed to make possession of 0.5 ounces or less a fineable offense, with no possibility of imprisonment. Additionally, possession of 0.5 to 2 ounces would have been classified as a misdemeanor.
Status: Didn’t pass in the Senate.
HB 738 HB 738 aimed to expand Georgia’s medical marijuana program from low-THC oil to encompass full medical marijuana use. It also intended to broaden the range of medical conditions eligible for medical marijuana therapy.
Status: Didn’t advance through the Senate.
SB 264 This bill was designed to repeal the low-THC Oil law and replace it with a comprehensive medical marijuana program. It sought to expand the list of qualifying medical conditions and diseases and allowed medical marijuana patients to cultivate marijuana plants at home and possess up to 2 ounces of medical marijuana.
Status: Didn’t pass in the Senate.
Georgians Support for Legalization: When Will Weed be Legal in Georgia?
Georgia’s cannabis laws stand in contrast to those in many other states where comprehensive reform has been pursued. According to the Reform Georgia website, a think tank advocating for marijuana reform, they believe that the state should legalize cannabis use for responsible adults. This includes opening up the cannabis and hemp industries, potentially leading to job creation and economic development within Georgia. In the absence of broader reform, for Georgia to decriminalize, it can serve as a harm reduction measure, as it has in other states.
Historical Punishment & Disproportionate Impact in Georgia
In Georgia’s history, cannabis-related offenses have carried severe penalties, disproportionately affecting marginalized communities. When Georgia decriminalized certain cities, it represented a shift to the state’s approach to address these charges.
Previously, mere possession could lead to harsh sentences, and convictions could carry lifelong consequences. However, the more recent efforts are aimed to mitigate these issues. Georgia passed a bill in 2019 decriminalizing the possession of less than one ounce of cannabis, reducing penalties to a $300 fine.
This change defines a critical step in not only acknowledging, but rectifying the disproportionate impact of cannabis laws in order to create a more equitable and legal landscape.
Potential Economic Impact with Changing Georgia Cannabis Laws
When it comes to Georgia legalization 2023, there’s the potential to shift the state’s cannabis legislation and the anticipated economic repercussions. As discussions around legalization and regulatory reforms continue, Georgia stands to experience significant economic benefits. The expansion of the cannabis industry could lead to job creation, bolstering local economies and increasing state revenue. These changes could also stimulate related sectors like tourism and agriculture. The economic transformation driven by changing cannabis laws in Georgia may provide the state with the resources and opportunities necessary for widespread growth and development.
Stemless: Transforming How Cannabis Dispensaries Engage with Customers
Stemless, a cutting-edge CRM software, is revolutionizing the way cannabis dispensaries interact with their customer base. Stemless emphasizes data-driven marketing and business intelligence management. Serving as an in-house growth marketing team. Stemless’ focus lies in the growth of customer and brand loyalty, allowing you to place full focus into perfecting your product or service. Here’s some of the features Stemless has to offer:
Loyalty Program: This comprehensive solution offers powerful features like a dynamic loyalty marketing for dispensaries, enhancing customer retention and satisfaction.
Targeted Text Messaging: It includes targeted sms marketing for dispensaries, an effective tool in the dispensary industry, allowing businesses to engage their customers proactively.
Integrations: With seamless integrations, Stemless provides integration solutions for dispensaries, which streamlines and elevates experiences.
Final thoughts on Georgia Marijuana Law
In the realm of this marijuana law landscape, marked by cautious steps towards allowing Georgia to decriminalize, is constantly changing. As regulations evolve, there’s emphasis on Low-THC oil for medical purposes, while other aspects remain with tighter restrictions. As we look ahead, the possibilities with Georgia marijuana law for reform, decriminalization, and future legislation signify an influential phase. By balancing social equity, economic gains, and public health interest, the future in Georgia holds the potential for a substantial change.
*disclaimer: this is not legal advice and we are not a legal platform. All information within this article is based on research to provide our users with information about Georgia cannabis laws in an easy to read guide. Keep in mind that rules/laws are ever-changing and could impact the validity of the information presented. This content was last updated in October 2023.