Commencement of Medical Cannabis Oil Sales in Georgia’s Pharmacies

On Friday, October 27, a significant milestone in the realm of cannabis occurred in Georgia and across the United States. It marked the inaugural day on which pharmacists were legally permitted to dispense cannabis products at their pharmacies.

Dr. Ankit Patel achieved the distinction of being the first pharmacist to engage in the sale of cannabis at his establishment, Robins Pharmacy. In an interview with CNN, Patel expressed his excitement about this historic event, emphasizing that he had eagerly awaited this opportunity for approximately four years. As soon as the announcement came that independent pharmacies were eligible to offer cannabis, Patel promptly completed the necessary licensing paperwork, fully aware of the importance of this momentous occasion.

Robins Pharmacy, located in the city of Warner Robins, was among the first? pioneers, alongside Omega Pharmacy and Allen Pharmacy Group, to secure a state license authorizing the sale of low-THC medical cannabis products characterized by a THC content of less than 5%. According to reports from People, more than 400 independent pharmacies in Georgia are eligible to participate in this program.

To gain approval from the state, pharmacies must undergo an inspection conducted by the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency. This inspection encompasses an evaluation of the pharmacy’s security measures and interviews with staff to assess their knowledge of and procedures for handling cannabis products.

Per state regulations, cannabis products must be stored alongside other prescription medications, a point stressed by Bill Posey, the owner of Allen Pharmacy Group. Posey emphasized that cannabis should be treated like any other “dangerous” pharmaceutical, comparing it to medications for high blood pressure, which are also classified as “dangerous” drugs in certain circumstances. Allen Pharmacy Group commenced cannabis sales on Monday, October 30, and reported receiving inquiries from interested customers, highlighting the demand for such products.

In a conversation with CNN, Posey noted that cannabis serves as a viable alternative to opioids. Georgia law permits medical cannabis for a total of 18 qualifying conditions, encompassing severe, terminal, or end-stage illnesses such as cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, seizure disorders, traumatic brain injuries, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, and many more.

Dr. Jordan Day, owner of Omega Pharmacy, expressed her intention to initiate medical cannabis sales later in the week. She also discussed the potential of cannabis to assist patients in reducing their reliance on opioids, emphasizing the valuable collaboration between pharmacists and doctors in guiding patients toward the most appropriate treatments.

Posey emphasized the personalized care offered by independent pharmacies, underscoring their commitment to treating customers like family and ensuring their well-being.

Dr. Patel actively informed his patients about the advantages of medical cannabis, particularly in light of the opioid shortage. He highlighted the natural and less addictive qualities of cannabis compared to opioids, encouraging patients to consider it as a legal option in Georgia.

Notably, on October 20, Andrew Turnage, the chair of the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Oil Commission, stated that this initiative would significantly enhance patient access to medical cannabis by reducing travel distances across the state.

The journey to this momentous day began when Governor Brian P. Kemp signed House Bill 324, also known as “Georgia’s Hope Act,” in April 2019, with the law taking effect in July of the same year. The legislation mandated the oversight of cannabis license regulation, cultivation, production, manufacturing, and sales of low-THC oil to the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission. Although the commission appointed its members in November 2019, it wasn’t until July 2021 that the state revamped its initial medical cannabis program and approved six companies to distribute cannabis.

In recent developments, Georgia officials revised their estimate of medical cannabis patients, revealing that the actual number is significantly lower than previously believed, primarily due to anomalies such as outdated patient cards and the inclusion of patients who had passed away since 2015.

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