First Dispensary Licenses Issued in Georgia Eight Years after Medical Cannabis Was Legalized in the State

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If approved, the newly licensed facilities will have 120 days to open their doors. More applications are anticipated in the future.

In late April 2023, the Georgia Medical Cannabis Association granted five dispensing licenses to two companies allowing them to begin selling low-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) oil (1). Once the facilities open, patients in Georgia’s medical cannabis registry will be able to legally purchase products.

“This is a milestone for the commission, and certainly for the certified patients who will be able to legally obtain medical cannabis very soon,” said Commission Chair Sidney Johnson (1). “They’ve waited a long time for this relief. The initial law was passed in 2015. It took four years to get legislation creating the commission, and now, four years later, we have created the regulatory infrastructure and are not far off from the day when licensees will open their doors for patients.”


“We can anticipate that future locations will continue to reach even more patients as our licensees continue to open additional locations,” said commission Executive Director Andrew Turnage (1). Each company can apply for six dispensing licenses maximum (1).

“It was just a process that took a little time,” said David Bradford, professor of public administration and policy at the University of Georgia in reference to the eight years between legalization and dispensary licenses (2). “In addition, the very first legislation that approved the possession of this low-THC oil had a much more limited set of medical conditions it was approved for. That has subsequently been expanded. So as in many states, there can be quite a bit of time between the first passage of the first law that authorizes some access for cannabis and a functioning market. Now, Georgia took a lot longer than most states, but that it took a number of years is very typical.”

Bradford also explained the process for a patient to access medical cannabis cards in Georgia, since doctors cannot prescribe it (2). Physicians complete forms provided by the Georgia Medical Cannabis Access Commission to certify that a patient has qualifying medical condition such as cancer. The patient takes the form to the state to obtain a cannabis access card and is then able to purchase products at a dispensary. Bradford estimates there are about 28,000 patients with cards in Georgia (2).