This past week in downtown Atlanta The Georgia Commission on Medical Cannabis met and held it’s second meeting to discuss the likelihood of having in-state medical cannabis cultivation. There are three more meetings planned for the group before the end of 2015.
The meetings come after the passing of bill HB 1, which legalized the right for patients who are registered with the state of Georgia for certain medical conditions to possess and consume cannabis oil that is high in the cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD), the compound known for many medical benefits, and low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound found in marijuana to have psychoactive effects.
The only problem with the bill passing is that a patient cannot get the healing CBD oil into the state without breaking a few of the federal drug trafficking laws. The Georgia Medical Cannabis Commission is working on a plan for in-state production and distribution of CBD oil to fix this issue.
Four major players in the manufacturing of medical cannabis in other U.S. states consulted with the group, providing information and recommendations on the different ways the state could grow the plant and distribute the oil, showing the state that there are a lot of interested parties who would jump at the chance to be a part of the medical marijuana business in Georgia.
Some others are giving their recommendations as well, including Jason Cranford, the founder of Flowering Hope Foundation and the creator of a strain of cannabis oil that is high in CBD and low in THC called Haleigh’s Hope, which was named after a six year old girl from Georgia.
Jason says that he’s seen issues regarding over-regulation of cannabis, causing many pitfalls for companies who are trying to produce the CBD oil that many Georgia patients need.
Cranford says, “I’ve seen states that attempt to be the sole license holder to cultivate and distribute. This model gives local government control over health care and will not make the citizens very happy. This gives the government too much control over an individual’s health care and the options they choose.”
Cranford also mentions that if the state of Georgia would consider a wider range of cannabinoids, not just CBD, many more people would be able to find relief from medical conditions that cause them to suffer greatly.
Many people who relocate from Georgia to Colorado are looking for seizure medicines that include THCA, another cannabinoid found in cannabis. Because he can’t ship the product, Cranford says that companies like his need to be able to cultivate in Georgia so he doesn’t break any drug trafficking laws that may occur from state to state.
In order to better answer questions the Commission was asking, Cranford went on to tell them why Georgia needed to grow marijuana plants with varying THC levels. He goes on to say “If you put a cap on it, you are going to make the producers work twice as hard, with twice as many plants and twice as many employees.”
Suterra, a company based in Atlanta, is in the perfect place to be involved in the medical marijuana industry in Georgia. This company’s product line consists of topical creams that many patients, including those with arthritis, use to manage pain.
Jake Bergmann, the CEO of Suterra, recommended a couple business models that would be perfect for Georgia. The first would give a license to a select few businesses to grow and maintain the plant from seed to sell, and the second would be managed by the state. The state would get a company like Suterra to grow and take care of the plants, only to hand over to the state…who would then own the plants in whatever form they are in. Then the state would deliver the CBD oil to the patients who need it.
Bergmann went on to say that if his company got a license to grow marijuana in Georgia that his company could “begin construction on a facility and have cultivation of plants in six months”. That means the CBD oil that is needed for treatment can be made available to patients sooner.
Another medical marijuana business owner, Mike Bragg, discussed some of his research around medical marijuana. Bragg is the President of CBD Farms and CEO (and founder) of Evolve Therapeutics in California, and like the other the two other men he also hails from Georgia. Bragg has even got involved in some research out in California that resulted in CBD slowing of the spread of aggressive cancers, specifically aggressive breast cancer.
Bragg’s father-in-law was diagnosed with stage III lung cancer so Bragg decided to use cannabis oil in the form of capsules on his father-in-law, and his doctors saw that the tumor started to shrink. They wanted more tests to see why the tumor was shrinking, so Bragg’s father-in-law (who is a resident of Georgia) decided to stop the cannabis treatments so the doctor’s wouldn’t find the drug in his tests.
Paranoia about cannabis runs rampant, but why should the sick be so afraid of something that can cure them? Bragg believes one of the biggest issues surrounding medical marijuana is misinformation. There has been a lot of misinformation spread about marijuana in Georgia and other areas of the south, and many people are fearful of being involved with the plant because of that. Bragg recommended to the Commission that the labs, greenhouses, and warehouses all be close together saying that “one million square feet or 25 acres of land would be enough space to cultivate all the medical marijuana needed to treat 500 patients in Georgia”.
The fourth group that spoke to the Commission was Oregonians for Better Health. Robert Blake, a spokesperson for the company said, “The Oregon program is one hundred percent patient-driven. The patients own the plants, not the grower. There are no corporate entities. Companies contract with individual patients who control all the production. Every product that is sold is tested for pesticides, mold, mildew, and other impurities”.
There are countless of medical conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana, which isn’t allowed by the HB 1 bill. It’s only a matter of time before the state of Georgia gets a handle on the popularity of CBD oil for treatment, making higher levels of THC likely in the future.