This unlikely state is the first in the country to sell medical cannabis at drugstores
Until now, states that have legalized medical cannabis have had to sell THC-based products at regulated dispensaries. However, patients in one Southern state will soon be able to get their medicine at independent pharmacies alongside other mainstream prescriptions.
Officials in Georgia recently passed updated rules allowing low-THC cannabis oil to be sold in drugstores. The decision marks the first time a state has permitted medical marijuana to be sold outside of dispensaries, dramatically increasing access for people across The Peach State.
It’s an interesting turn of events, given that Georgia is home to one of the most restrictive medical cannabis programs in the country. Less than 20 qualifying conditions are eligible for medical marijuana cards, and products are limited to tinctures containing up to five percent THC. It’s possible the rigid restrictions on cannabis may have led regulators to feel more comfortable with taking this step.
At the time of publication, Georgia has only six medical cannabis dispensaries. Once low-THC oil is available in pharmacies, nearly 90 percent of Georgia residents will be within a 30-minute drive of a drugstore selling the product.
State regulators must approve pharmacies to dispense medical cannabis. Around 120 have registered to sell products from Botanical Sciences, one of two licensed producers in Georgia.
In addition to providing more ways for people to purchase medical cannabis, the move may also help broaden education and normalize the plant by offering an established entry point for potential patients.
“Pharmacists are a trusted provider, and it’s a way for us to destigmatize this new medicine,” said pharmacist Mindy Leech, the owner of Lee-King Pharmacy, in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It will make people more comfortable if they want to come in and ask questions about it.”
There are approximately 14,000 patients currently registered for low-THC cards in Georgia. With the expanded availability of oil, that number may soon rise dramatically.
The news from Georgia is unexpected, but it may have a ripple effect throughout the country. As more people seek relief from medical cannabis, increasing access through familiar and reputable means could have a major impact.