Georgia Cannabis Business Licenses
WHAT IS GEORGIA’S CURRENT CANNABIS MARKET STATUS?
Content Below Last Updated by Point7 4/6/2022
Georgia’s Hope Act makes it legal for companies to produce and distribute low-THC oil, and for patients to legally obtain low-THC medical marijuana oils. However, cannabis consumption and possession is still illegal under Georgia law. The following cities and counties have passed local decriminalization ordinances; Atlanta; Clarkston; Forest Park; Fulton County; Kingsland; Macon-Bibb County; Savannah; and South Fulton. Additional legislation was introduced in 2021 to expand Georgia’s low-THC oil medical program into a full scale medical marijuana program with no cap on THC, and more allowable forms. Of the bills introduced, Governor Brian Kemp signed SB 195 into law, expanding the medical cannabis program to include licensed retailers. Unfortunately, the program itself has been subject to various legal challenges, stalling the roll-out of the program. There are currently two bills circulating in Georgia, HB 1425 and SB 609. Both would essentially give the program a fresh start with either a new application process or a review of the existing applications and issuing the licenses to the top six applicants. Many of the existing issues arised from lack of transparency and fairness in the original licensing round, a problem that both proposed bills aim to resolve. If either bill progresses, the original six winners will have to re-apply along with other hopefuls.
WHAT ARE GEORGIA’S CANNABIS LAWS?
The Georgia House Bill 324 cannabis law stipulates a THC cap at 5%, but allows for six growing licenses to be granted to private companies through a competitive application process — two for larger organizations, and four for smaller businesses. Two large private companies are permitted to grow cannabis on up to 100,000 square feet of space. Four smaller businesses are permitted to grow up to 50,000 square feet. The law also allows the University of Georgia and Fort Valley University to cultivate medical marijuana, and produce medical cannabis.
- Residency Requirement: None
- Diversity: The law recommends cannabis businesses include at least 20% participation by minorities, women, and veterans — but does not require they do so.
- Pharmacies will be allowed to sell low-THC oil if licensed by the State Board of Pharmacy.
- Private dispensaries and production facilities will be approved by the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission.
WHAT IS GEORGIA’S CANNABIS LICENSING TIMELINE & CANNABIS APPLICATION PROCESS?
In 2021, the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission (GMCC) awarded six licenses and closed the application process to additional groups.
Class 1 Production Licenses: Application period opened November 23, 2020 — closed January 27, 2021
- Availability: Two licenses were issued.
- Would be authorized to: Grow cannabis only in indoor facilities, limited to 100,000 square feet of cultivation space, and may only manufacture low THC oil.
- Capitalization requirements: Must provide written documentation showing on the date of application that the applicant holds at least $2 million in available cash reserves to invest in operations.
- Must also include documentation to prove a $1.5 million cash bond payable to the State of Georgia, or an irrevocable letter of credit can be obtained within 30 days of license award.
- Must pay a non-refundable application fee of $25,000.
- Must pay an initial license fee of $200,000.
- Must pay a renewal fee of $100,000.
Class 2 Production Licenses: Application period opened November 23, 2020 — closed January 27, 2021
- Availability: Four licenses were issued.
- Would be authorized to: Grow cannabis only in indoor facilities, limited to 50,000 square feet of cultivation space, and only manufacture low-THC oil.
- Capitalization requirements: Must provide written documentation showing on the date of application that the applicant holds at least $1.25 million in available cash reserves to invest in operations.
- Must also include documentation to prove a $625,000 cash bond payable to the State of Georgia, or an irrevocable letter of credit can be obtained within 30 days of licensure award.
- Must pay a non-refundable application fee of $5,000.
- Must pay an annual renewal fee of $50,000.
Dispensary Licenses: The Commission has not yet issued applications for dispensing licenses. They are in the process of promulgating dispensary regulations.
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF CANNABIS IN GEORGIA?
On April 17, 2019 Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed HB 324 (the Hope Act) opening the state to commercial medical cannabis cultivation, distribution, and retail business opportunities in the Peach State. Georgia launched a limited medical marijuana program in 2015, although the cultivation, manufacture, or sale of THC products was not originally permitted under the program, and was deemed a failure. The new legislation included expanded qualifying medical conditions; a regulated supply chain; and access to lab-tested products. As of January 2020, Georgia has over 20,000 registered medical marijuana patients.
DOES GEORGIA HAVE A HEMP PROGRAM?
The Georgia Department of Agriculture regulates licensing of industrial hemp. The application process is currently open for grower licenses and processor permits.
PREPARING FOR THE GEORGIA CANNABIS MARKET
We are ready to support your team as you prepare for cannabis licensure in Georgia. Contact Point7 to discuss the fully customizable products and service packages available that have proved successful for operators around the country.