Cultivation of only low-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) medical cannabis is legal in Richmond County by virtue of Georgia House Bill 1 (HB 1) or Haleigh’s Hope Act in 2015 and its April 2019 updates in House Bill 324 (HB 324). The definition of low-THC cannabis in HB 1 is cannabis with less than 5% THC content.
A cannabis business must submit an application for a Class 1 production license or Class 2 production license with the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission (GMCC) in order to cultivate low-THC medical cannabis commercially. A maximum of two Class 1 production licenses and four Class 2 production licenses will be issued by the licensing authority. Just one type of license may be held by a licensee. The license permits only the indoor growing of low-THC medical cannabis.
The bearer of a Class 1 production license may cultivate low-THC medical cannabis within a growing area no greater than 100,000 square feet. The holder of a Class 2 production licensee, however, is only permitted to have a maximum of 50,000 square feet for a growing area.
A non-waivable, non-transferable, and non-refundable application fee of $25,000 must be paid for the Class 1 production license, followed by $200,000 as the initial licensing fee, and $100,000 as the yearly cost of the license renewal.
A Class 2 production license requires a $5,000 application fee, a $100,000 initial licensing fee, and a $50,000 annual license renewal fee, all non-transferable, non-refundable, and non-waivable.
Whenever a license holder sells the license, transfer fees must be paid at the following rates:
|Class 1 Production License||Class 2 Production License|
On January 27, 2021, the acceptance of applications for both Class 1 and Class 2 production licenses ended. On September 21, 2022, the GMCC awarded two Class 1 licenses, with the licensees having only until September 2023 to commence operations. The Commission had not yet awarded any Class 2 licenses as of March 2023.
The locations of licensed Class 1 and Class 2 production facilities must be at a distance of over 3,000 feet from any childcare center, private or public school, or open house of worship. Separate yearly inspections of the facilities may be conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the GMCC. In addition, upon any inspection requests made by the law enforcement sections of the county or municipality, the facility must be immediately made available.
HB 324 prohibits licensed cultivators from applying Georgia Department of Agriculture-regulated artificial pesticides. The establishment of a tracking system to monitor and document their low-THC medical cannabis inventory is a requirement for Class 1 and Class 2 cannabis production license holders' facilities. From planting to cutting, drying, curing, oil extraction, and waste disposal, they must trace and record all of their goods.
Legal cannabis manufacturing in Richmond County is limited to the production of low-THC medical cannabis oil mandated by HB1 and HB 324 of the State of Georgia. This is permitted only for holders of Class 1 or Class 2 production licenses granted by the GMCC. Licensees are authorized to cultivate low-THC medical cannabis and use their harvested crops in manufacturing low-THC medical cannabis oil. They, therefore, follow the same application and licensing procedures and regulations.
Representative samples of low-THC medical cannabis oil from all Class 1 and Class 2 production facilities must be tested by an independent laboratory recognized by the GMCC to assess the strength and the exclusion of bacteria, residual solvents, pesticides, heavy metals, or other objects. All products that fail the testing must be destroyed promptly by the license holder. The GMCC must be provided with proof of product destruction.
Both Class 1 and Class 2 licensed producers are forbidden from manufacturing low-THC medical cannabis oil for vaping purposes. HB 324 expressly prohibits the intake of low-THC medical cannabis oil by means of vaporization.
Only the retail sale of low-THC medical cannabis oil in Richmond County is legal as stipulated by the State of Georgia’s HB1 and HB 324. It can be sold only to holders of the Low THC Oil Registry medical marijuana card issued by the Georgia Department of Public Health. Only holders of the GMCC low-THC medical cannabis dispensing license are authorized to sell.
The GMCC has, however, not yet granted any medical dispensary licenses as of March 2023 and applications are closed. Meanwhile, as stated in the GMCC Annual Report for 2022, currently licensed Class 1 and Class 2 production facilities are each to be permitted to establish not more than five low-THC medical cannabis oil dispensaries.
Low-THC medical cannabis oil delivery to medical marijuana cardholders by any cannabis licensee is not discussed in the State of Georgia's HB1 and HB 324. Under HB 324, though, low-THC medical cannabis oil may be transported between licensed medical cannabis establishments provided that proper security measures are implemented.
Richmond County residents can apply through the Georgia Department of Public Health for a Low-THC Oil Registry medical marijuana card. In order to be eligible to apply, a person must be diagnosed with one of the medical problems listed below by a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) who is duly licensed by the state and in good standing with the Georgia Composite Medical Board. The following medical conditions are eligible for low-THC medical cannabis oil treatment:
Severe autism in persons younger than 18
Autism spectrum disorder in persons aged 18 and older
PTSD from trauma in persons aged 18 and above
Severe Tourette’s syndrome
AIDS (end-stage or severe)
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (end-stage or severe)
Peripheral neuropathy (end-stage or severe)
Sickle cell disease (end-stage or severe)
Alzheimer’s disease (end-stage or severe)
Multiple sclerosis (end-stage or severe)
Cancer treatment causing cachexia or intractable nausea and vomiting
Parkinson’s disease (end-stage or severe)
Conditions requiring hospice care
The first step for the applicant is downloading the required forms from the Low-THC Registry page. The applicant must then sign the Low-THC Oil Waiver and present it to the doctor. This authorizes the doctor to complete and sign the Low-THC Oil Physician's Certification Form, and submit it to the registry online. The doctor will retain the original certification and waiver but may provide a copy of both upon the patient's request.
If the patient is under the age of 18, the doctor must specify in the certification the necessity for a caregiver. The patient's parent, legal custodian, or guardian could be designated as such.
The patient must complete and submit the application form to the online registry. The same must be done by the caregiver separately.
Once the applications are approved, the patient and caregiver will be contacted by the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Low-THC Oil Registry. They will be asked to choose the most convenient branch of the public health office where they could pick up their respective medical marijuana cards after paying $25 each.
It takes around 15 days to complete the process, from the date of the online submission of complete requirements to the sending of the medical marijuana cards. The card authorizes the holder to purchase from a licensed medical cannabis dispensary and carry a maximum of 20 fluid ounces of low-THC medical cannabis oil within the boundaries of the State of Georgia. It is valid for two years and must be renewed.
The following may be contacted for further information:
Georgia Department of Health
2 Peachtree Street, NW
Atlanta, GA 30303
Phone: (404) 657-2700
Under Bill 324, a sales and use tax must be levied on the gross revenue from low-THC medical cannabis oil. The tax rate, however, has not yet been established. Moreover, the GMCC is obligated to transfer to the State Government all funds raised from medical cannabis license fees and application charges.
Despite the fact that no low-THC medical cannabis oil was made in 2021, the GMCC Annual Report for 2022 states that a sum of $765,000 was collected from medical cannabis license application fees. The GMCC anticipates around $800,000 in total application fee collection in the fiscal year 2022.
As of March 2023, retail selling of low-THC medical cannabis has not yet begun in Richmond County and the rest of the State of Georgia even if it is legal.
For future comparisons, data from the FBI’s Crime Explorer page shows that In the latest available data, which is from 2021, there were 10,739 marijuana offense arrests, with 9,764 for possession and 975 for manufacturing or sales, in Georgia. There were 18,504 DUI arrests statewide in 2021.