First medical cannabis dispensaries in Georgia to open Friday morning

The first medical cannabis dispensaries open in Georgia on Friday morning.

A state commission issued licenses to dispense the medicine. This comes after years of fights at the state Capitol, lawsuits and bureaucratic delays.

Some parents of medically fragile children have been fighting for nearly a decade to bring medical cannabis to Georgia. They are excited their years of hard work are paying off.

"This is a huge step forward for patients," said Shannon Cloud, whose daughter Alaina, lives with Dravet’s Syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy that can cause seizures and developmental delays. "So many families have put so much into this fight to make this medicine available for our kids and all of our loved ones here in Georgia."

Cloud says medical cannabis helps Alaina, who is 17, to focus. "It’s just hard to believe that for eight years we’ve been able to possess the oil but had no way to legally get it," Cloud said.

Corey Lowe says her daughter, Victoria, 21, suffered with dozens of severe seizures each day before treatments with medical cannabis.

"It’s a step forward in the right direction," Lowe said. "This is what we fought for. This why we slept at the Capitol. This is why we were knocking on lawmakers’ doors to get full access."

It was legal for registered patient to possess medical cannabis in Georgia. But there was nowhere to buy it until now. The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission on Wednesday awarded licenses to Trulieve and botanical sciences to sell low THC oil to registered patients who suffer from severe seizures, Parkinson’s and terminal cancer.

"It really is and can be a true game changer for folks in terms of quality of life," said Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers.

The company on Friday morning will open its Marietta dispensary to clients. 

"Anyone with a medical marijuana card," Rivers said.

Allen Peake, a former state representative from Macon, spearheaded efforts to bring medical cannabis to Georgia, sponsoring the bill that legalized medicine. 

"This is a great move," Peake said. "We are at the end of this journey, finally, hopefully going to have access to medical cannabis oil in the boundaries of our state."

"The fact that this is finally happening is just amazing," Cloud said.

Lowe says state legislators and regulators need to more to help more patients. 

"They could raise the limits for folks who have more serious like cancer, who need more access to higher THC," Lowe said.