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Gravley: Getting medical cannabis oil to patients taking 'far too long'
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The state medical marijuana commission announced earlier this month that close to 70 businesses have applied for licenses to produce low-THC cannabis oil for medical use in Georgia, but patients will still have a long wait for medicine.

The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission launched the license application process last November. The commission is charged with establishing the infrastructure needed to supply the state’s registered patients with medical cannabis.

But state Rep. Micah Gravley, R-Douglasville, the Georgia legislator instrumental in passing the legislation to provide medicinal cannabis, says the process to get medicine to patients has already taken “far too long.”

The commission plans to announce contract awards at the end of the review process, likely in late spring or early summer. Companies can then begin to construct facilities and begin production, a process that may take yet another six to eight months that patients won’t have access to medicine.

The number of registered patients waiting to receive the oil was rising as the committee began seeking licensees in 2019, but then that number leveled off as the bureaucratic process seemingly slowed to a crawl.

Gravley, contacted by phone, said he is currently working on a clean-up bill to be filed within the next week aimed at streamlining the remaining process required to get THC-oil into the hands of patients and make sure that the types of delays that have happened over the last two years cease.

Gravley, who also sponsored the original legislation that allowed for medicinal THC in Georgia, said he’s spoken with people who say their doctor will not register them to obtain the still unavailable oil. And while reports of the number of registered patients has varied, it hasn’t risen much since 2019.

“Here’s the thing. It’s been two years since this thing passed. There are a lot of frustrated patients, a lot of people in the state who are saying ‘why should I get on the registry when there’s no oil that I can legally buy in the state of Georgia?’ ” Gravley said.

The companies are seeking either Class 1 or Class 2 licenses. Under legislation the General Assembly passed in 2019, Class 1 licenses will let the recipient grow marijuana indoors in up to 100,000 square feet of space.

Class 2 licenses will authorize recipients to grow an indoor crop occupying up to 50,000 square feet.

With this done it adds more than a year to a process that overall will come close to spanning a decade, Gravley noted.

“It’s been three years since the original bill was passed for the oil to be available to Georgia patients. In my view, that’s failure,” Gravley said and added, “...we worked for five years to get the law; it shouldn’t have taken three years before patients were able to access oil in this state.”

The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission came into being in 2019 when Gov. Brian Kemp signed Georgia’s Hope Act into law, the bill that allowed for distribution of medical THC to registered patients and caregivers to purchase the medicine from licensed pharmacies.

Members of the commission were appointed by Gov. Kemp, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and House Speaker David Ralston and includes medical professionals, professors, business owners and law enforcement.

The job of its seven members is to consider and approve applications for companies to grow and sell medical marijuana in Georgia. The commission has the authority to approve up to six private growers to cultivate medical cannabis.

About 14,000 medical marijuana patients were registered in Georgia by the end of 2019, and have since then been awaiting the culmination of this process.

The list of diseases that qualify patients for cannabis oil under the legislation include cancer, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, mitochondrial disease and sickle-cell anemia.

Gravley said that out of the statewide stats for those with one or more treatable conditions under the law, District 67 could have hundreds, if not thousands, who may suffer from a condition(s) on the eligibility list.

The commission also recently announced it put an emphasis on attracting applications from businesses owned by minorities, women and/or veterans.

“Today is a great day for patients who need access to low-THC oil, and economic development for minority-, women-, and veteran-owned businesses,” said Andrew Turnage, the commission’s executive director.

But Gravley said he doesn’t care who the approved licensees are as long as they meet the established criteria and can get on with the business of providing the oil.

“I think we all need to be thinking in an expedited mindset of how we go about choosing the best licensees for the state of Georgia. But the top priority and most important aspect is making sure that the licensees that are chosen are reputable companies that have a history of making this oil in another state and have a solid, medicinally-based pharmaceutical-type product, that is safe for our Georgia patients and will be readily accessible and ready to go in 12 months from the issue date of the license,” Gravely said.

Gravley has said all along that he’d like to see the infrastructure established ASAP to start getting medicine to patients who need it.

“I’m available for help or advice; I’m available in any way, form, or fashion to help speed this process along in any way that I can; I’m happy to help,” Gravley said.

Once the manufacturing licenses have been awarded, the commission will develop rules and regulations for granting licenses to dispensaries that will distribute the low-THC oil to patients.

Patients and other members of the public would be able to keep track of the program’s progress and sign up for notifications by visiting the commission’s website at www.gmcc.ga.gov.

Lithia Springs man launches new clothing line
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James Newman had the launch for his new clothing line all planned out.

He was going to let it coincide with his birthday party that included renting out a downtown Atlanta spot equipped with food, a DJ and other vendors who were going to be in attendance.

Then the unthinkable happened as businesses were ordered to shutdown as America came to grips with a global pandemic.

Disappointed, but not undetermined, Newman came up with other marketing skills to launch a new clothing line.

“I was discouraged at first because I had done a lot of planning,” Newman said. “The uncertainty of everything was the most difficult to deal with. I was trying to be different but dope. I had this birthday and launch party all ready to go.”

Newman got his Cörner Kids Apparel launched and he says sales are doing well.

He received a big break when rap mogul/businessman Percy “Master P” Miller saw his products on social media.

With Miller’s endorsement and over six million social media followers, Newman got the break he needed to run his online business.

Miller had an online contest for up-and-coming entrepreneurs to help them jumpstart their business if he liked the product.

Newman said he has always been a big fan of Miller, and that is one reason he entered the contest.

“It is amazing that one of my business idols held my product,” Newman said. “It was something that I created and Master P held it in his hand and liked it. It just hits different when you have that type of admiration for a person.”

A Nebraska native, Newman juggles his full-time, bill-paying job in the logistics industry as he continues to grow his clothing line through online sales.

The basement of his Lithia Springs home serves as his man cave and home office.

“I’m three years into this, and I’m determined to make it work,” Newman said.

Because of the pandemic, he has scaled back his plans of traveling and pushing the product in person.

He uses social media with live chats and blogs to get the word out.

“This pandemic has forced you to be creative,” Newman said. “It takes a lot to do it. Everything that I’m doing, I self-taught myself. There have been some opportunities that have presented itself.”

Newman said that Corner Kids Apparel is a lifestyle clothing brand that represents the necessary change from your “Cörner.”

“Your “Cörner” is not necessarily where you grew up at but more so your comfort zone,” Newman said. “My brand directly represents my story of me moving from Lincoln, Nebraska, to Atlanta, Georgia, in search of my purpose.”

Visit https://www. facebook.com/Corner KidsApparel to learn more.

Nine county teams make basketball postseason
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The county was almost a Perfect-10 when it comes to the state basketball playoffs.

Douglas County saw nine of its 10 teams earn a berth into the state playoffs, which begin this evening around the state.

Three teams — Douglas County’s boys and New Manchester’s boys and girls — will enter the postseason as region champions.

It was the second region championship for the New Manchester boys team and first in program history for the girls.

All three teams will have the opportunity to host playoff games a long as they win. Alexander boys, the Region 5-6A runner-up, will host its first round game against Buford on Wednesday.

The rest of the teams in the county will be on the road.

“We have preached as long as we play together, we are a hard team to beat,” New Manchester girls coach Vincent Parks said. “We are playing our best basketball right now.”

This marks the first time that New Manchester has had both its teams make the state playoffs in the same season. The school opted not to play a doubleheader.

The girl’s team has won 16 straight games and is 11-1 in home games this season.

Lithia Springs’ girls are in the playoffs for a seventh straight year, the second-longest streak in the county.

The Lions team is composed of sophomores and freshman.

“It has been a journey,” Lithia Springs coach David Mills said. “They have been forced in roles that they were not ready for because of their age. As a team, we have made mistakes but they are young mistakes because of their lack of experience.”

Lithia Springs is a No. 4 seed and will play at Hiram on Wednesday.

Hiram comes into the game on a six-game winning streak after defeating Cass in the region tournament championship game.

Lithia Springs will be playing its first game in 12 days because the region did not have a region tournament. Playoff teams were determined by the regular season region standings.

Because Maynard Jackson and New Manchester split during the regular season, they have a one-game championship game to decide the region’s top seed.

Mills said he isn’t concerned about the long layoff between games.

“We spent last week catching up and cleaning up some things,” Mills said. “We are hopeful that we filled in some gaps. I think not playing last week could be a blessing. We have seven girls on our team that were playing middle school basketball last season.”

Alexander girls will travel to Gwinnett County to take on undefeated Buford, which has won four straight Class 5A titles. The Wolves enter Tuesday’s contest with a 24-0 record.

EMS worker being investigated after patient's opioids go missing
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A Douglas County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) employee is under internal investigation after prescription opioids came up missing when a patient was transported from her home to the hospital.

An incident report from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office shows that on Jan. 13, a patient was transported to Wellstar Douglas Hospital for a medical issue, and was released on the same day.

When the patient returned home, she told a sheriff’s deputy that she couldn’t find her bottle of prescribed oxycodone, which contained about 100 pills, according to the report from the sheriff’s office.

The victim alleged that the pills were the only item taken from her home, according to the report.

The sheriff’s deputy called the emergency room at the hospital to see if the medication was left there and was told by a nurse it was not at the hospital, according to the report. He also called the CVS pharmacy on Highway 5 to verify that the prescription was filled. The deputy wrote in the incident report that the prescription was filled at the pharmacy on Jan. 8.

The victim stated she had “searched all over the house and her car” and could not find the medication, which she takes four times a day, according to the report.

“Because this is a personnel matter and ongoing investigation, we can not comment on it,” Douglas County Fire Chief Roderick Jolivette said. “We are making sure a good complete investigation is done.”

Oxycodone is an opioid medication that is used for treatment of pain and is a commonly abused drug.

The alleged incident happened before Jolivette took over the department.

“These are issues that we take serious,” Jolivette said. “We have the public trust at stake.”

Douglas County Sheriff’s Capt. Elmer Horn said they have closed their case on the alleged incident. He said they turned “everything over to the Fire Department” following their investigation.