(The Center Square) – The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission will select six companies to begin producing the plant for medicinal purposes in the state.

Nearly 70 companies applied for licenses to grow marijuana and turn it into oil for the treatment of various diseases. Once the commission approves them, companies could consider paying up to $ 200,000 in royalties to the state. You have a year to deliver products to thousands of Georgians who have been waiting for more than five years.

Patients with a Low THC Oil Registry card can legally purchase up to 20 fluid ounces of the THC oil from licensed pharmacies or pharmacies according to legislation enacted in 2015 by former Governor Nathan Deal. However, without guidelines and a medical marijuana market, the 14,000 registered patients in Georgia have no legal means of obtaining the oil.

Zane Bader of the Georgia Cannabis Trade Association said most patients must break the law or leave the state to get the oil, which can be used to treat serious illnesses like cancer, Parkinson’s and AIDS.

Governor Brian Kemp has been driving the process since he took office, signing the Georgia Hope Act in April 2019. He created the Commission to Monitor the Regulation of the Medical Marijuana Industry.

Georgia’s Hope Act went into effect in July 2019. The commission held its first meeting in December 2019. However, Bader believes the pandemic, staff shortages and underfunding continued to delay the process.

Kemp’s administration recommended a starting budget of $ 1.2 million to the commission, but lawmakers have allocated more than $ 200,000 for fiscal 2020, and about $ 200,000 less than the commission requested in fiscal 2021. The commission received more than $ 847,000 in fiscal 2022.

“Patients definitely need access to their products that they have been waiting for, and it’s just unfortunate that it took so long,” said Bader.

The commission said once the licenses are issued, companies can start building facilities and manufacturing, which can take six to eight months from the date the contract is awarded. It takes three to eight months to grow a cannabis plant.

The Commission will issue the letter of intent on Saturday to award contracts for two Class 1 production licenses and four Class 2 production licenses.

Class 1 production licenses allow up to 100,000 square meters of space for indoor cultivation and the production of low-THC oil. Class 2 production licenses allow up to 50,000 square meters of space for indoor cultivation and the production of low-THC oil.

The registration fee for a Class 1 license was $ 25,000. The Class 1 license fee is $ 200,000, and licensees must pay $ 100,000 to renew each year. The application fee for a Class 2 license was $ 5,000. The Class 2 license fee is $ 100,000, and licensees are required to pay $ 50,000 each year to renew.