Local pharmacies could soon allow distribution of Medical Cannabis

Local pharmacies could soon allow distribution of medical cannabis

Georgia Pharmacies Apply for Permits to Dispense Medical Cannabis to Eligible Patients.

Mindy Leech, pharmacist and owner of Lee King Pharmacy in Newnan, hopes to be one of the first pharmacies in Georgia to distribute medical cannabis to customers.

Soon pharmacies will join the seven licensed dispensaries in the state in handing out low-THC products to eligible patients and Lee King Pharmacy in Newnan is one of the many who have applied for a permit.

Pharmacist and owner of Lee King Pharmacy Mindy Leech said she previously worked with an oncology group and has seen that medical marijuana can make a difference for patients in dealing with their treatments.

But it was always “an arm’s length away,” she said.

Patients who might benefit had to travel to another state to fill the prescription. So when she saw that pharmacies were now eligible for permits to dispense the products, she applied, Leech said.

“This is another medication in our arsenal,” Leech said. “Another way to help our patients.”

Georgia may be the first state in the country to implement the practice, she said.

At their meeting in September, Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission members announced their intention to change the commission’s rules to accommodate working with pharmacies to dispense low-THC products.

The group is hosting a public hearing about the rule change on Nov. 1 at 4 p.m. Gov. Brian Kemp had already approved rules proposed by the Board of Pharmacy to allow the pharmacies to dispense the products, though.

Andrew Turnage, executive director of Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission, said there is currently nothing in the commission’s rules that would preclude the agency from working with pharmacies. So, the Board of Pharmacy was able to start taking applications right away.

The state has not instituted a cap on the number of independent pharmacies that can receive the permits and there are between 750 and 1,000 independent pharmacies in the state, he added. That means no matter where in Georgia a patient lives, soon they are more than likely going to be able to get their prescription for cannabis filled within their county, Turnage said.

Leech was unsure when she would hear from the board about the application but hoped to be approved for a permit by the end of 2023, she said.

The pharmacies will have to abide by the same rules as the dispensaries, Leech said.

State law allows for a very narrow group of patients to receive the medical cannabis products including those who are suffering through cancer treatments, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease patients, and post traumatic stress disorder patients.

The products are also limited to 5 percent THC or less and can only be distributed in certain forms including oil, capsules and tincture. They are not legally produced in edibles or in smoking form, according to state law.

Leech is excited about the prospect of pharmacies carrying the product, and she said it possibly could reduce the stigma that followed marijuana from the streets to the dispensary, she said.

“There’s always been this shadow surrounding marijuana,” Leech said.

She also said pharmacies are well-equipped to dispense the products to their customers.

“We know our patient bases better than anyone,” Leech said.

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Region: Georgia

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