Trulieve Cannabis Corp., a Tallahassee-based multistate operator, made history by opening the first medical marijuana dispensaries in Georgia – in Macon and Marietta. The grand openings, which was slated for Friday at 9:30 a.m. ET, mark a significant milestone in the state’s slow-rolling medical marijuana industry.
The launch events include a festive ambiance, complete with a traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony, food trucks, and a merchandise giveaway, as announced in a press release on Thursday.
“Today is a new beginning for the over 27,000 registered medical patients in Georgia,” CEO Kim Rivers said in a statement Friday. “Trulieve is equally thrilled and humbled to bring the first two medical cannabis dispensaries in the state, serving both Macon and Marietta communities in their health and wellness journey.”
The news of the two dispensaries came after Georgia regulators issued the state’s first batch of retail licenses on Wednesday to Trulieve and Botanical Sciences, the only vertical operators in the market. The approval allows each company to open six dispensaries.
The Florida-based company plans to expand its footprint in Georgia with three additional dispensaries this year, targeting Columbus, Newnan, and Pooler as their next locations.
8 Years in the Making
Since legalizing medical cannabis possession in 2015, Georgia patients only recently gained the ability to legally purchase it. The commission, established in 2019, now regulates low-THC oil production in the state.
Legal challenges and technical difficulties have plagued the program, prompting lawmakers to propose overhauling the system. In the latest session, a bill to dissolve the commission and transfer the program to the Georgia Department of Agriculture was introduced but failed. The commission continues to regulate the program.
Recently released patient registration data from the commission overseeing Georgia’s medical cannabis program sheds light on the state’s progress.
According to the March data, four Atlanta counties – including two where Trulieve’s new dispensaries are located – have between 1,000 and 3,000 registered patients each, while only two of Georgia’s 159 counties have no registered patients.
Those numbers are expected to swell as the program expands and becomes further commercialized. The state’s cannabis commission projects the number of registered patients to grow from 27,000 to around 100,000 within the next 12 to 18 months.
Still, nothing is ever sure in the South.
Patients must have a qualifying condition, such as severe ALS, autism, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease, confirmed by a doctor to be eligible for the registry.
Georgia’s medical cannabis program allows only six companies to produce nonsmokable low-THC marijuana with a concentration of 5% or less. Of these, Botanical Sciences and Trulieve can produce in 100,000-square-foot facilities, while the other four are limited to 50,000 square feet. The two were granted Class 1 production licenses last September.
All operators are required to be operational within 120 days of license approval. The requirement presents a significantly shorter timeframe compared to other states, such as New York.