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One of the next states to issue licenses will be Georgia. This southern state has a large population and is embarking upon a limited license program where Georgia’s Access to Medical Cannabis Commission will bestow only six licenses. The Atlanta Journal Constitution just reported that the state has received almost 70 applications, but the applicant information is not public. However, we have deduced some of the likely applicants below.
The commission may issue up to two Class 1 production licenses. A Class 1 production licensee shall be authorized to: (1) Grow cannabis only in indoor facilities for use in producing low THC oil, limited to 100,000 square feet of cultivation space; and (2) Manufacture low THC oil.
The commission may issue up to four Class 2production licenses. A Class 2 production licensee shall be authorized to: (1)Grow cannabis only in indoor facilities for use in producing low THC oil, limited to 50,000 square feet of cultivation space; and (2) Manufacture low THC oil.
Both of these license types come with high application and renewal fees along with proof of capital and bond or line of credit. These licenses are expected to be issued in late spring or early summer.
When we founded Cannabiz Media, our choice was to focus exclusively on cannabis licenses, companies, and contacts. The awarding of licenses typically arrives after a long process of voting, horse trading, and regulation drafting. By the time a license makes it into our database – it is the end of a very long road. However, this long process throws off some exhaust gasses along the way that can indicate possible future outcomes. Two sources of this information include business formations and lobbying.
A tried and true approach to understanding a jurisdiction is to register to do business there. This may give the executive team a chance to be on the ground and meet business residency requirements in their license quest. In looking at the list of well-known MSOs – these are the ones we found registered in Georgia:
Five of these were formed in 2020. Parallel/aka Surterra Holdings mentioned in their just released deal deck that they submitted an application last month for cultivation, production, and retail licenses and “We believe our status as the only MSO domiciled in Georgia(corporate office) will benefit us during the review process.” I’m not sure that will make it into the scoring sheets but home-town heroes tend to know people. One of the application forms does ask the following:
Georgia Resident Business - Georgia Resident Business means any business that regularly maintains a place from which business is physically conducted in Georgia for at least one year prior to any bid or proposal to the state or a new business that is domiciled in Georgia and which regularly maintains a place from which business is physically conducted in Georgia; provided, however, that a place from which business is conducted shall not include a post office box, a leased private mailbox, site trailer, or temporary structure.
Of course new rules and regulations bring out the entrepreneur in all of us. Here are some other businesses registered in the state that pertain to cannabis:
Nabisco and the Boy Scouts may have some issues with the above. And Seaweedxxx may want to find the Florida seafood company that secured a license for CBD-infused alligator meat.
Another “tell” in the industry centers around lobbying. In reviewing the records for the above companies, everyone except Acreage employed lobbyists. The reasons given were varied, but I think it is safe to assume that shaping the rules and regulations to lessen competition and enact an oligopoly might have been part of the brief.
Curaleaf’s efforts were for the purpose of “General Business Issues,” while Surterra focused on AGRICULTURAL AND PHARMACEUTICALISSUES and ISSUES WITH POTENTIAL IMPACT ON SURTERRA'S GENERAL BUSINESS INTEREST. Trulieve was after help with GEORGIA MEDICAL MARIJUANA LICENSING and HEALTHCARE AND HEALTHCARE LICENSING. Verano chose EXPANDING BUSINESSOPPORTUNITIES IN GEORGIA and Procurement while Columbia Care’s purpose was simply Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals.
So who will get the six licenses outlined above? As we all know, it depends on how political the process is and how the judging is handled. The application instructions are a bit light on details.
The scoring is broken down into two sections. The first part is a pass/fail on the “mandatory requirements” and then up to 1,000 points are awarded on these nine criteria, but the points won’t be disclosed:
Recently, West Virginia awarded a number of its licenses to “out-of-state” MSOs while Arkansas, years earlier, chose in-state providers. I would venture that Surterra/Parallel and Trulieve are well positioned as they are local though Trulieve did lodge a protest in December – perhaps that will work against them.
Many counter-protests were lodged, including one by ACC, LLC – a firm that is 90% held by African Americans and 5% by a service-connected disabled veteran. Pure Peach Therapeutics, GA Bioscience Research, Georgia Atlas, and Veterans For Cannabis have all shared that they are applicants through the protest process. Most bristled that Trulieve is out of state, and that new date would delay medicine getting to all the patients that need it.
Cannabiz Media customers can stay up-to-date on these and other new licenses through our newsletters, alerts, and reports modules. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive these weekly reports delivered to your inbox. Or you can schedule a demo for more information on how to access the Cannabiz Media License Database yourself to dive further into this data.