Pubdate: Thu, 29 Oct 2015
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)
Copyright: 2015 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Author: Aaron Gould Sheinin


State law enforcement officials said Wednesday that any expansion of
medical marijuana in Georgia will need extensive regulations to
protect patients and to be sure the system isn't exploited.

GBI Director Vernon Keenan and others said if the state makes
marijuana broadly available for medical reasons, it should mirror
federal pharmaceutical law that requires extensive testing and
monitoring of controlled substances.

Keenan and leaders of the state sheriffs' association told members of
a special commission studying the issue that doing otherwise will lead
to abuse.

"There's already standards in place from the Drug Enforcement
Administration that regulate pharmacies and gives the elements for
restrictions and way to do business," Keenan said. "It would be my
position: Why would we deviate from the DEA regulations already in

Georgia lawmakers this year legalized the use of a particular kind of
oil derived from marijuana by patients with a limited number of
diseases. But patients accepted into the program must arrange their
own way of obtaining the drug, which is not sold in Georgia. Many
travel to other states and risk arrest in transporting the oil back to

The commission must present recommendations to Gov. Nathan Deal by the
end of the year for a system to grow and distribute the drug in Georgia.

Using DEA standards, Keenan said, would work, but there's a

"Get ready, they're very comprehensive and expensive and
time-consuming," he said. "But if we're going to provide access, then
it needs to be done through existing processes."

Terry Norris, the executive director of the Georgia Sheriffs
Association, said his members will want to be actively involved.

"The sheriffs will want a seat at the table in making those decisions
on how that is regulated," he said. "And they will want the ability to
go in and look at these sites and have access to records at these
sites and implement some state regulations on inventory control, waste
control, who works there. All those issues that haven't been thought
of yet."

There are private solutions to some of those challenges, commission
members learned. Cody Stifler, a regional vice president of
BioTrackTHC, said his company creates software specifically for the
medical marijuana industry.

His company's software "empowers these governments with real-time
visibility of every plant and every gram," he said.

BioTrackTHC, based in Florida, can track the system from marijuana
seed to retail sale, he said.

"Patients need to have the peace of mind to know the products they
purchase are safe for consumption," Stifler said. "Business owners
need a way to show themselves to be credible businesses with
legitimate products."
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