ATLANTA – Saturday will be a big day for Georgia’s medical marijuana program.

The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission announced Wednesday it will hold a public meeting in Walker County on Saturday to reveal which applicants will be licensed to grow marijuana in Georgia, convert the leaf crop into cannabis oil and sell the finished product to eligible patients.

Under legislation the General Assembly passed two years ago, the commission will issue up to six licenses to private companies to grow marijuana in hothouses under close state supervision. Two licenses will allocate up to 100,000 square feet of growth space each, while the other four licensees will be limited to no more than 50,000 square feet of growth space.

Two other licenses will go to Georgia’s two land-grant universities, the University of Georgia and Fort Valley State University, for research purposes.

Licensees will be limited to producing low-THC cannabis oil, containing no more than 5% THC, the psychoactive ingredient that gets marijuana users high.

The drug will be sold at licensed dispensaries or specially licensed pharmacies to patients suffering from a range of diseases including cancer, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, mitochondrial disease and sickle-cell anemia. Patients must be enrolled in a registry overseen by the state Department of Public Health and have a doctor’s prescription.

Georgia lawmakers first legalized the use of cannabis oil in 2015. However, the law provided no legal way for patients to obtain the drug inside the state.

The 2019 legislation created the seven member commission to oversee the rollout of Georgia’s medical cannabis program. Nearly 70 businesses have applied for a license.

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