DEA Issued Warnings Georgia Pharmacies; Cautions Against Dispensing Medical Cannabis

A federal government agency has stepped in an attempt to exert authority over the burgeoning medical cannabis program in the Peach State. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has issued warnings to pharmacies in Georgia, cautioning against the dispensing of the drug due to its illegality under federal law. This comes approximately two months following to the Georgia Board of Pharmacy’s groundbreaking decision allowing independent pharmacies to distribute THC oils.

In accordance with Georgia law, the permissible THC content is limited to a maximum of 5%. THC, known as tetrahydrocannabinol, is the component of the cannabis plant responsible for inducing a “high,” a crucial factor leading doctors to recommend medical cannabis for addressing conditions such as pain, nausea, insomnia, and various other issues. The range of approved products encompasses THC oil, tinctures, topicals, capsules, and lozenges.

Georgia pharmacies registered with the DEA have been notified of potential violations of federal law if they dispense such product to their customers.

Matthew J. Strait, Deputy Assistant Administrator of the DEA’s Diversion Control Division, conveyed in a memorandum last month that DEA-registered pharmacies are authorized to dispense controlled substances only within Schedules II-V of the Controlled Substances Act. Neither marijuana nor THC can be legally possessed, handled, or dispensed by any DEA-registered pharmacy.

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All DEA registrants, including pharmacies, are obligated to comply with relevant federal laws and regulations. Products derived from the cannabis plant with delta-9 THC content exceeding 0.3% are classified as cannabis, a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Additionally, products containing any amount of synthetically produced THC are considered tetrahydrocannabinols, also classified as Schedule 1 controlled substances.

Despite cannabis being categorized as a Schedule 1 substance, indicating no accepted medical value and high abuse potential, a notable development occurred in August when the Health and Human Services (HHS) recommended the DEA reclassify marijuana to a Schedule III substance. This suggests a shift in the federal government’s stance on marijuana, acknowledging its medical value by placing it in the same category as highly illegal and addictive drugs.

Marijuana Moment previously highlighted potential challenges regarding the DEA’s advisory, pointing to a congressional budget rider prohibiting the Department of Justice from expending resources to intervene with state medical marijuana laws. This provision is effective until February 2024.

Currently, there are 400 independent pharmacies in Georgia eligible to participate in the program. In November, the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission granted provisional licenses to four additional companies—Fine Fettle GA, TheraTrue, Nature’s GA, and Treevana Wellness—to produce low-THC oil, as reported by Georgia Recorder.

Previously, Georgia had only two licensed marijuana producers: Botanical Sciences LLC and Trulieve Cannabis Corp.

TDR will keep readers apprised on the developing story as events warrant.

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