Federal drug inspectors have warned Georgia to abandon its intentions to become the first state to allow pharmacies to sell medical marijuana.
According to news outlets, the US Drug Enforcement Administration issued a warning to pharmacies on November 27 that supplying medical marijuana violates federal 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 supervises the state’s budding medical marijuana business, stated that it cannot ignore the federal decision, despite the fact that pharmacies are permitted to dispense the goods under state law.
The commission’s executive director, Andrew Turnage, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the state would like to see pharmacists continue to provide consultations for medicinal cannabis products in the same way that they do for other medications.
The DEA stated in a memo to pharmacies that none of them can legally possess, handle, or distribute marijuana or related products containing more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol – the psychoactive ingredient known as THC that causes users to get high.
Georgia allows patients with medicinal requirements to purchase medical marijuana products containing up to 5% THC. Marijuana sold for recreational purposes has a greater THC level.
The DEA stated that goods derived from the cannabis plant with a THC concentration of more than 0.3% are considered marijuana, making them unlawful under federal drug legislation.
Since 2015, Georgia has permitted individuals with specific diseases and physician consent to possess and consume low-THC medicinal cannabis products. However, there was no legal way for them to purchase the substance in Georgia until April.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, marijuana is legal for recreational use in 24 states around the country. Another 23 states permit some sort of medical cannabis.
Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a group that normally opposes marijuana legalization, shared the current DEA warning online.
Ira Katz of Atlanta’s Little Five Points Pharmacy told WXIA-TV that pharmacies like his should be authorized to dispense the items in the same way that marijuana dispensaries do.
“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.”
The interim CEO of the Georgia Pharmacy Association, Mahlon Davidson, said he doubted independent pharmacists would jeopardize their companies by defying 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.”
Those who oppose quick marijuana legalization argue that the DEA’s approach will safeguard consumers and allow for additional research.
According to Michael Mumper, executive director of the non-profit Georgians for Responsible Marijuana Policy, consumers believe that pharmaceuticals provided by pharmacies have been thoroughly studied, are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and are legally legal. That, according to Mumper, is not the case with medical marijuana.
However, if a recent proposal to relax marijuana laws is approved, the government’s position may change. In August, the US Department of Health and Human Services proposed removing marijuana from the Schedule I list of prohibited narcotics and reclassifying it as a lower-risk Schedule III drug.