Cannabis comes to Cobb: First medical marijuana dispensary opens in Marietta
Apr. 28—MARIETTA — Legal cannabis has arrived in Cobb County.
On Friday, Florida-based Trulieve Cannabis Corp. opened its first two medical marijuana dispensaries in Georgia — one at 220 North Cobb Parkway in Marietta and another in Macon.
The openings came after the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission approved five dispensing licenses for Trulieve and Botanical Sciences LLC, which had both already received licenses from the commission in September to grow cannabis in Georgia. Trulieve's cannabis production facility is located in Adel.
"Today is a new beginning for the over 27,000 registered medical patients Georgia," said Kim Rivers, CEO of Trulieve. "Trulieve is equally thrilled and humbled to bring the first two medical cannabis dispensaries in the state serving both Macon and Marietta communities in their health and wellness journey."
Inspections of Trulieve's dispensaries were completed Thursday. The approval allows the company to provide low-THC cannabis oil, which contains no more than 5% of the psychoactive substance in the cannabis plant, to patients with a range of diseases.
Patients eligible for Georgia's medical marijuana program include those with seizure disorders, Parkinson's disease, terminal cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder and sickle-cell anemia.
More than 27,000 people have registered with the state program, according to data from the commission. Cobb and Fulton counties are the only two in Georgia with more than 2,000 registered patients as residents.
'We just hit the lottery'
Sydney Wages, 19, was the first patient and customer at Trulieve's Marietta location Friday morning.
Her father, Jim Wages, said his daughter had her first seizure after she was born. Over the years, he and his wife Lisa tried seven different medications for Sydney that failed to treat her epilepsy.
"The only thing we've found with any promise was cannabis oil," Jim Wages said.
After nearly a decade lobbying Georgia elected officials to legalize medical cannabis and approve dispensaries, Jim Wages was emotional as he purchased a bottle of cannabis oil for Sydney.
"I don't want to really compare this to a monetary value, but we just hit the lottery," Wages said. "We just finally got to the point where we could actually walk in instead of having to meet in parking lots and pick up our oil."
Wages said he and his wife risked prosecution to help their daughter.
"God gives you a child, she's a blessing from God, and we're just trying to be good stewards of his blessing, and we're tired, but it's all worth it today," Wages said.
There were plenty of discouraging moments in the fight to legalize medical marijuana in Georgia, Wages added, but it was Sydney and so many other children, and the smiles on their faces when they found relief from cannabis, that kept him and other families fighting.
"We never gave up, but we were discouraged a lot of times, there have been a lot of times we've left Sine Die at the Capitol crying," Wages said.
Jim Wages said the community of children in need of medical cannabis is like one big family and many of them were in attendance at the Trulieve opening.
"We're not just lobbyists, we're 'mommy-lobby' and 'dadvocates,'" Jim Wages said. "We're family. We check on each one of the children. When one child's sick, all of us are sick, we pray for them every day."
'Good times from now on'
The line outside the Trulieve dispensary in Marietta was more than a dozen people long as the Wages wrapped up their purchase of a bottle of cannabis tincture, or liquid extract, which costs $45 a bottle.
Ken Moore, 71, of Woodstock, was the first person in line after them. He came dressed for the occasion, rocking a T-shirt that reads "It's time for my medication above a clock surrounding a cannabis leaf that reads 4:20.
Moore has chronic pain and said he was at Trulieve to get relief from a source other than the opioid hydrocodone, which he's taken for 15 years and called "poison."
"I'm hoping to get better relief out of (cannabis)," Moore said. "It'll be a relief, is all I can count on, and good times from now on."
State Rep. Devan Seabaugh, R-Marietta, who was also in attendance, said he expects Georgians treating pain with opioids to shift to cannabis with the openings of dispensaries like Trulieve's.
"I think what you're going to see is a lot of people moving from opioid treatment ... to this medical cannabis, which is going to be a good thing for them, it's going to be good for the opioid addiction crisis that we've got going on here now," Seabaugh said.
MPD chief on cannabis laws
Marietta Police Chief Marty Farrell said in an email to the MDJ Trulieve will not be treated any differently than other businesses in Cobb and "will be held to the same standards and laws applicable to their industry."
He noted the local employees and executives of Trulieve stopped at the department to introduce themselves a few days ago, and Marietta police trust they will be good, law-abiding members of the community.
"Like any other change to the law, we will educate our officers and monitor the business for compliance," Ferrell said.
The opening of the medical cannabis dispensary will not change the department's treatment of recreational cannabis.
"MPD will continue to enforce all state and local laws pertaining to marijuana use," Ferrell said.
Dispensary details and eligibility
Trulieve's Marietta store is open every day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 220 North Cobb Parkway, suite 600. Products include cannabis oil tinctures, capsules, topical lotion and hardened tincture drops. Prices range from $25-$45.
Patients must have a Low THC Oil Card to purchase from medical cannabis dispensaries in Georgia. The cards are issued by the Georgia Department of Public Health following approval by a physician.
Those eligible to apply for a card include adults who have one or more of the diseases covered by Georgia's medical marijuana law, legal guardians of an adult with one or more of those diseases, and parents or guardians of minors with one or more of the diseases.
Trulieve offers discounts to veterans, seniors, pediatric patients and patients receiving food stamps, according to Renee Legere, Trulieve's strategic partnerships manager.
Steps to obtain a card, a list of diseases covered by the law and other frequently asked questions can be found at https://dph.georgia.gov/low-thc-oil-registry.