Federal Agency Rejects Georgia’s Plan to Allow Medical Marijuana Sales in Pharmacies


Federal drug inspectors have told Georgia it should give up on its plans to be the first state to let pharmacists sell medical marijuana.

News sites say that on November 27, the US Drug Enforcement Administration told pharmacists that selling medical marijuana is against the law.

In October, the Georgia Board of Pharmacy began accepting applications to dispense the products. According to the board, 23 Georgia independent pharmacies have already received licenses.

The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission, which is in charge of the state’s new medical marijuana business, said it couldn’t ignore the federal decision, even though state law lets shops sell the drugs.

Andrew Turnage, the executive head of the commission, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the state wants pharmacies to keep advising on medical cannabis products in the same way they do with other drugs.

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) told pharmacies in a letter that none of them can legally have, handle, or sell marijuana or related goods that have more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol, which is what makes people high.

Individuals in Georgia who need medical marijuana can buy goods with up to 5% THC amounts. There is more THC in marijuana that is sold for casual use.

The DEA said that products made from the cannabis plant that has more than 0.3% THC are considered pot and are therefore illegal under federal drug laws.

Georgia has let people with certain illnesses and a doctor’s permission to have and use low-THC medical cannabis products since 2015. But until April, there was no legal way for them to get the drug in Georgia.

The National Conference of State Legislatures says that 24 states across the country allow people to use marijuana for fun. Twenty-three more states let people use some kind of medical weed.

Federal Agency Rejects Georgia’s Plan to Allow Medical Marijuana Sales in Pharmacies

This DEA warning was shared online by Smart Approaches to Weed, a group that usually fights against legalizing weed.

A pharmacist in Atlanta named Ira Katz told WXIA-TV that his store and others like it should be able to sell things in the same way that marijuana shops can.

“It just doesn’t make any sense to me that people can go to a dispensary and not to a pharmacy,” he told me. “We would be buying it from the same growers.”

Mahlon Davidson, the acting CEO of the Georgia Pharmacy Association, expressed skepticism about independent pharmacists’ willingness to put their businesses at risk by opposing the DEA.

“The current conflict between state and federal law puts Georgia’s pharmacies in a difficult position,” the Georgia Pharmacy Association wrote to pharmacists in a letter, adding that the association is “putting forth the maximum effort to help provide timely information and assist in navigating this issue.”

People who are against legalizing marijuana quickly say that the DEA’s plan will protect users and allow for more study.

Michael Mumper, executive director of the non-profit Georgians for Responsible Marijuana Policy, says that people think that drugs sold by pharmacists have been carefully researched, have been passed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and are legal. As Mumper says, that’s not the case with medical marijuana.

The government may change its mind, though, if a new plan to loosen marijuana rules is passed. In August, the US Department of Health and Human Services suggested that marijuana should be moved from Schedule I to Schedule III, which is a lower-risk list of illegal drugs.

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