It is legal to cultivate cannabis in Henry County but only to grow low-THC cannabis for medical use. Georgia House Bill 1 (HB 1) also called Haleigh’s Hope Act allowed, in 2015, the use of low-THC medical cannabis, which it defined as containing less than 5% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). HB1 was updated in April 2019 by House Bill 324 (HB 324) which allowed the cultivation of medical cannabis by licensed growers.
To cultivate low-THC medical cannabis, a company must apply for a Class 1 production license or Class 2 production license from the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission (GMCC). The licensing authority will limit the issuance of Class 1 production licenses to two and Class 2 production licenses to four. A licensee can have only one type of license.
The Class 1 production licensee is allowed to cultivate an area of up to 100,000 square feet. On the other hand, a Class 2 production licensee can only cultivate an area of up to 50,000 square feet.
The Class 1 production license has a mandatory $25,000 application fee, a $200,000 initial license fee, and a $100,000 annual renewal fee that cannot be waived. These are non-transferable and non-refundable.
The Class 2 production license’s mandatory and non-waivable application fee is $5,000, its initial license fee is $100,000, and its annual renewal fee is $50,000. These are also non-transferable and non-refundable.
Licensees must also pay transfer fees whenever a production license is sold, as follows:
|Class 1 Production License||Class 2 Production License|
Applications for both Class 1 and Class 2 production licenses closed on January 27, 2021. The GMCC granted two Class 1 licenses on September 21, 2022, giving the licensees only up to September 2023 to begin operations. As of February 2023, the Commission has not yet issued any Class 2 licenses.
License holders are only allowed to cultivate low-THC medical cannabis indoors. HB 324 forbids licensed growers from using artificial pesticides that are regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture.
The facilities of Class 1 and Class 2 production licensees must be more than 3,000 feet from any place of public worship, daycare center, or private or public school. They are subject to annual inspections, separately, by the GMCC and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The facility must also be immediately available for any inspection requested by the local law enforcement agency of the county or municipality.
An independent laboratory approved by the GMCC must test representative samples of all Class 1 and Class 2 production facilities’ low-THC medical cannabis oil to determine potency and the absence of microorganisms, leftover solvents, insecticides, heavy metals, or foreign objects. Any product that does not pass the tests must be immediately destroyed by the license holder. Evidence of the product destruction must be submitted to the GMCC.
Class 1 and Class 2 cannabis production license holders are required to establish in their facilities a tracking system for the monitoring and documentation of their low-THC medical cannabis inventory. They must track and log all their products from planting to trimming, drying, curing, oil production, and waste disposal.
It is legal to manufacture cannabis in Henry County but only to produce low-THC cannabis oil for medical use as stipulated by HB 324. To do so, a business must apply for a Class 1 or Class 2 production license from the GMCC since these licenses authorize the manufacturing of low-THC medical cannabis oil in addition to cultivation. All the aforementioned application processes and regulations on Class 1 and Class 2 production facilities apply.
Both Class 1 and Class 2 licensed manufacturers are, however, prohibited from producing low-THC medical cannabis oil intended for use through vaping. The use of low-THC medical cannabis oil through vaporization is forbidden by HB 324.
It is legal to sell cannabis by retail in Henry County but HB 324 restricts this to only low-THC cannabis oil for medical use to be sold to patients and caregivers who are in the Low THC Oil Registry managed by the Georgia Department of Public Health and hold medical marijuana cards. Also, a low-THC medical cannabis dispensing license is required. As of February 2023, however, the GMCC has not yet begun accepting applications for this license since its rules are still being drawn up.
In the meantime, according to the GMCC Annual Report for 2022, current Class 1 and Class 2 production license holders will each be authorized to operate a maximum of five dispensaries.
HB 324 has no provisions covering low-THC medical cannabis oil delivery to registered patients and caregivers who hold medical marijuana cards. Since the rules regarding low-THC medical cannabis oil retail are still being drawn up by the GMCC as of February 2023. The rules on delivery will likely be included once the process is completed.
Henry County residents must apply for inclusion in the Low-THC Oil Registry to get a medical marijuana card. They must first be diagnosed to have one of the qualifying medical conditions in Georgia, as follows:
Autism spectrum disorder for patients aged 18 and older
Trauma-caused post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for patients aged 18 and older
Severe autism for patients below 18 years old
Severe Tourette’s syndrome
End-stage or severe amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
End-stage or severe peripheral neuropathy
End-stage or severe AIDS
End-stage or severe Alzheimer’s disease
End-stage or severe multiple sclerosis
End-stage or severe sickle cell disease
End-stage cancer, or cancer treatment that causes wasting or intractable nausea and vomiting
End-stage or severe Parkinson’s disease
Conditions that need hospice care
The patient must download the required forms and bring the Low-THC Oil Physician’s Certification Form and Low-THC Oil Waiver to a state-licensed Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) who is in good standing with the Georgia Composite Medical Board. The patient must sign the Waiver and give this to the doctor. After making the diagnosis, the doctor must fill up the Physician’s Certification and keep this on file while also logging it into the online registry. The patient may ask for a copy of both the Waiver and the Physician’s Certification.
If the patient is a minor or an adult who needs assistance, the doctor may indicate the need for a caregiver in the certification. The caregiver must apply for a caregiver’s medical marijuana card. A caregiver may be the patient’s parent, guardian, or legal custodian.
The Registry will contact the patient and caregiver upon approval of their application to determine the location of the public health office where they want to pick up their medical marijuana card. They will then have to pay the $25 fee, respectively.
From the time that the online forms are submitted, the entire process takes about 15 days. The medical marijuana card is valid for two years and authorizes the holder to purchase low-THC medical cannabis oil and carry up to 20 fluid ounces of it within the State of Georgia.
For further information and inquiries, the following may be contacted:
Georgia Department of Health
2 Peachtree Street, NW
Atlanta, GA 30303
Phone: (404) 657-2700
HB 324 requires the imposition of a sales tax and use tax on gross receipts of low-THC medical cannabis oi but the percentage for these taxes has not been set yet. The GMCC is also mandated to submit to the State Treasury all revenues collected from medical cannabis application fees and license fees.
While no low-THC medical cannabis oil was produced in 2021, according to the 2022 Annual Report of the GMCC, the total collection from medical cannabis license application fees amounted to $765,000. For the fiscal year 2022, the GMCC forecasted the total of collected application revenues to reach $800,000.
While low-THC medical cannabis has been legalized in the State of Georgia, including Henry County, retail sales have not yet started as of February 2023.
As a baseline for future comparisons, data from the Henry County Police Department on the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer page shows that in 2021, there were 334 arrests related to marijuana offenses, of which 315 were for marijuana possession, and 19 were for marijuana manufacturing or sales. There were 281 DUI arrests in the same year.