Only the cultivation of low-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) cannabis for medical use is legal in consolidated Muscogee County by virtue of the 2015 Haleigh’s Hope Act or Georgia House Bill 1 (HB 1), which was updated by House Bill 324 (HB 324) in April 2019. HB 1 defines low-THC cannabis to have a THC content of less than 5%.
Muscogee County’s Code of Ordinances Chapter 3 Section 3.1.5 on Master Planned Developments (MPD) allows only indoor cannabis growing facilities, and only in the Light Manufacturing/Industrial Zoning District (LMI) and Heavy Manufacturing/Industrial Zoning District (HMI). All low-THC medical cannabis-related activities in the county, including cultivation, must be overseen by the state’s Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission (GMCC).
If a company wants to grow low-THC medical cannabis for profit, it must acquire a Class 1 production license or Class 2 production license from the GMCC. The licensing authority will award only up to two Class 1 production licenses and up to four Class 2 production licenses. A licensee is only permitted to possess one kind of license.
A maximum growing area of 100,000 square feet may be used for cultivation by the holder of a Class 1 production license. Meanwhile, a Class 2 production licensee is only allowed to have a maximum growing area of up to 50,000 square feet.
There is a required $25,000 application fee for the Class 1 production license, with an initial licensing charge of $200,000, and an annual renewal cost of $100,000. All of these payments cannot be waived, refunded, or transferred.
The required application fee for a Class 2 production license is $5,000, the initial licensing charge is $100,000, and the yearly renewal fee is $50,000. They are likewise non-waivable, non-refundable, and non-transferable.
The following rates of transfer fees are payable every time a license is sold by a license holder:
|Class 1 Production License||Class 2 Production License|
Acceptance of applications for both Class 1 and Class 2 production licenses concluded on January 27, 2021. Two Class 1 licenses were granted by the GMCC on September 21, 2022, and the licensees have until September 2023 to start operating. As of March 2023, no Class 2 licenses have been granted by the Commission.
Class 1 and Class 2 production licensees' facilities must be 3,000 feet or more away from any private or public school, daycare facility, or public place of worship. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the GMCC may conduct separate annual examinations of the facilities. Also, the facility must be instantly accessible for any inspection requests made by the county or municipality's law enforcement division.
HB 324 prevents licensed medical cannabis cultivators from making use of artificial pesticides controlled by the Georgia Department of Agriculture. The facilities of Class 1 and Class 2 cannabis production license holders should implement a tracking system that monitors and records their inventory of low-THC medical cannabis. They must be able to trace and document all of their merchandise, from planting through trimming, drying, curing, oil extraction, and trash disposal.
Only the manufacturing of low-THC cannabis oil for medical use is legal in Muscogee County as mandated by the State of Georgia’s HB1 and HB 324. Only holders of the GMCC Class 1 or Class 2 production license are allowed to do so in addition to cultivating low-THC medical cannabis. Licensees use the low-THC cannabis crops they cultivate to manufacture medical cannabis oil. Hence, all application and licensure processes and requirements are the same.
To check the concentration of low-THC medical cannabis oil and the exclusion of pathogens, remaining solvents, insecticides, heavy metals, or other contaminants, representative samples from all Class 1 and Class 2 production facilities must be analyzed by an independent laboratory certified by the GMCC. Any items that are rejected by the tests must be quickly destroyed by the licensee. Confirmation of the product's destruction must be presented to the GMCC.
It is, however, against the law for Class 1 and Class 2 licensed manufacturers to create low-THC medical cannabis oil for vaporizers. HB 324 clearly forbids the use of vaporization to consume low-THC medical cannabis oil.
Only low-THC medical cannabis oil retail in Muscogee County is legal as stipulated by HB1 and HB 324 of the State of Georgia, and it can only be sold to holders of the medical marijuana cards issued by the Low-THC Oil Registry supervised by the Georgia Department of Public Health. To operate legally, a medical cannabis dispensary must have a low-THC medical cannabis dispensing license issued by the GMCC.
Muscogee County’s Code of Ordinances Chapter 3 Section 3.1.5 allows medical cannabis dispensaries only in the following zoning districts:
Uptown Zoning District (UPT)
Central Riverfront District (CRD)
Neighborhood Commercial Zoning District (NC)
General Commercial Zoning (GC)
As of March 2023, however, the GMCC has not yet issued medical cannabis dispensary licenses. The GMCC Annual Report for 2022 states that in the interim, Class 1 and Class 2 production licensees are allowed to operate up to five medical cannabis dispensaries each.
The State of Georgia’s HB1 and HB 324 do not mention low-THC medical cannabis oil delivery to medical marijuana cardholders by any cannabis licensees. HB 324 only allows the transport of low-THC medical cannabis oil among licensed medical cannabis facilities and requires the implementation of appropriate security procedures.
Residents of Muscogee County may apply for a medical marijuana card from the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Low THC Oil Registry. To qualify as an applicant, they must have any of the listed ailments as diagnosed by a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) who is state-licensed and in good standing with the Georgia Composite Medical Board. The qualifying illnesses for low-THC medical cannabis oil treatment are:
Autism spectrum disorder in persons aged 18 and older
Severe autism in persons younger than 18
PTSD from trauma in persons aged 18 and above
Severe Tourette’s syndrome
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (end-stage or severe)
AIDS (end-stage or severe)
Peripheral neuropathy (end-stage or severe)
Alzheimer’s disease (end-stage or severe)
Sickle cell disease (end-stage or severe)
Multiple sclerosis (end-stage or severe)
Cancer treatment causing cachexia or intractable nausea and vomiting
Conditions requiring hospice care
Parkinson’s disease (end-stage or severe)
The required forms must be downloaded by the applying patient. The Low-THC Oil Waiver must be signed by the applicant and given to the qualified doctor. This will enable the doctor to fill up and sign the Low-THC Oil Physician’s Certification Form and post its contents on the online registry. The doctor will keep the original certification and waiver but the applicant may request to be given copies of both.
The doctor must include in the certification the need for a caregiver if the patient is below 18 years old. The caregiver could be the patient’s parent, legal custodian, or guardian.
The patient must fill up the application form and submit it to the online registry. The caregiver must also download, complete, and submit a separate application form.
The patient and caregiver will be contacted by the Low-THC Oil Registry of the Georgia Department of Public Health when the applications are granted. They will have to pick a public health office branch where it would be most convenient for them to get their medical marijuana cards upon paying their individual fees of $25. From the date they submitted all documents online, it would take approximately 15 days to get the card.
The medical marijuana card’s validity is two years and the holder must renew it. The card allows the holder to buy from a licensed medical cannabis dispensary not more than 20 fluid ounces of low-THC medical cannabis oil and carry this within state boundaries.
For more information, the following may be contacted:
Georgia Department of Health
2 Peachtree Street, NW
Atlanta, GA 30303
Phone: (404) 657-2700
The implementation of a sales and use tax on gross proceeds of low-THC medical cannabis oil is required under HB 324, however, the rate for these taxes has not yet been determined. In addition, the GMCC is required to turn over to the State Government all money earned from licensing and application fees for medicinal cannabis.
Notwithstanding the fact that in 2021, no low-THC medical cannabis oil was produced, the amount collected from medical cannabis license application fees totaled $765,000 as reported by the GMCC Annual Report for 2022. The GMCC expects to collect total application revenue of about $800,000 in the fiscal year 2022.
Low-THC medical cannabis is already legal in Muscogee County and yet its retail selling has not yet commenced as of March 2023.
Data from the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office on the FBI’s Crime Explorer page shows that in the latest available data in 2020, there were four arrests for marijuana offenses, all for marijuana possession.
There were 60 DUI arrests in 2020.