Georgia’s first medical cannabis dispensaries open their doors

A line gathers outside of Tulieve's Marietta location which was one of the first medical cannabis dispensaries to open in the state of Georgia on Friday, April 28, 2023. (Matthew Pearson/WABE)

Eight years after the state of Georgia legalized possession of medical cannabis, two stores opened Friday offering legal access for Georgians to buy it.

Jim and Lisa Wages, along with their 19-year-old daughter Sydney, were the first customers at Trulieve’s dispensary on Cobb Parkway in Marietta.

The Wages have been part of the long fight to bring legal access to medical cannabis to Georgia.

His 19-year-old daughter Sydney has a severe form of epilepsy.

Jim describes how he has been finding cannabis to treat his daughter’s seizures.

“Meeting in parking lots of grocery stores, department stores, convenience stores to actually make a transaction. I mean, it’s we’re having to be like drug dealers just to get what we need. I mean, although it all is all legal. We feel now, we can walk in now and nice and just purchase. But before we were having to meet and not say look over our shoulder because we knew we were legal and it’s just it’s hard. It’s really hard.”

Tim Morey, Chief Sales Officer for Trulieve speaks during a ribbon cutting ceremony at the dispensary’s Marietta location on Friday, April 28, 2023. (Matthew Pearson/WABE)

While possession of medical cannabis was legalized in 2015, no process was created to produce and sell medical cannabis in Georgia until 2019.

That process took more than four years, which included the process under the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission and a number of legal hurdles.

Jim says the importance of the dispensaries is access to safe products.

“Having lab-tested products here is the most important part to us. And the regulation for that, to make sure that we’re getting a clean, safe, no issues in the oil whatsoever that would cause any kind of issue for us going forward.”

The forms of medical cannabis available in Trulieve’s store include capsules, lotions and tinctures, which are absorbed under the tongue.

Medical Cannabis treatments are available as a topical lotion with varying doses and combination of CBD and THC. (Matthew Pearson/WABE)

Trulieve opened a location in Macon on Friday, along with the one in Marietta.

Trulieve grows its cannabis at a facility in Adel in South Georgia.

Georgia’s other in-state producer of medical cannabis, Botanical Sciences, also plans to open their first Atlanta metro location in the area of Windy Hill and 75 in Marietta.

More dispensaries are expected to open later this year in the Atlanta area and across Georgia.

Only patients and caregivers on Georgia’s low-THC oil registry are eligible to get medical cannabis products.

There are more than 26,000 patients and 19,000 caregivers on the state’s registry.