April 19, 2022 | News

Medical cannabis commission gets new board chair

Writer: Dave Williams

Published April 19, 2022
Albany Herald

Gov. Brian Kemp has named a former commissioner of the Georgia Department of Administrative Services to chair the board that oversees the state’s struggling medical marijuana program.

Sid Johnson, who now serves on the faculty at the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, took over as board chairman of the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission on Monday, succeeding Dr. Christopher Edwards.

“I’m looking forward to the insight that Sid Johnson will bring to the commission,” Kemp said. “He has a keen understanding of how local, state, and federal policies interact and impact citizens, and with his wealth of experience he will assuredly be successful in navigating the commission’s mission in the years to come.”

The commission was created in 2019 as part of a bill that legalized growing marijuana in Georgia and converting the leafy crop into low-THC cannabis oil for sale to patients suffering from a variety of diseases.

But the program has yet to get off the ground. After issuing a request for proposals, the commission tentatively awarded two “Class 1” licenses last summer authorizing the winning bidders to grow marijuana in up to 100,000 square feet of space and four “Class 2” licenses to grow the crop in a space of up to 50,000 square feet.

Sixteen other companies that applied for but did not receive licenses filed legal protests charging the licensing process was unfair and arbitrary, threatening to tie up the program in lengthy litigation.

The General Assembly tried to fix the problem during the recently concluded 2022 session. But legislation aimed at breaking the logjam tying up the licensing process was tabled in the session’s final hours.

Besides appointing Johnson to head the commission’s board, Kemp also directed $150,000 from the Governor’s Emergency Fund to the commission to expedite hearings of pending legal protests at the Office of State Administrative Hearings.