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Georgia working to expedite medical marijuana card approval process | Here's how

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By Tracey Amick-Peer

After a physician approves a patient's need, the wait time should be two weeks - but patients are left waiting more than a month.

ATLANTA — Nearly 30,000 patients are on Georgia’s medical marijuana registry, but according to the state health department, a backlog is leaving at least 500 more waiting.

Kim Skriba says she was part of that backlog until a few days ago.

“As a mom of a special needs kid the stress is unbelievable,” Skirba said. She depends on medical cannabis to help her 24-year-old son, Ryan.

“Before he was having 100 grand mal seizures a month once," she explained. "We started cannabis oils- it cut it in half."

But she says it took her almost four months to get her medical marijuana card. “It’s enough to deal with every single day but to worry about if we’re going to be able to get his medicine it’s not right at all,” Skriba said.

Skriba finally got their card two days ago. On Wednesday, she bought medical marijuana for her son at the Trulieve dispensary in Marietta. The Marietta dispensary is one of five in the state licensed to sell medical marijuana. Its president, Dr. Lisa Pinkney, says they hear all the time how the card process can take a while for patients.

Pinkney said it's because of the process.

“The patient who believes they have one of the 17 conditions goes to one of their physicians and it has to be a physician deemed as a certifier,” said Pinkney.

That physician notarizes and uploads the paperwork to the Department of Public Health then there’s a wait for the card.

The wait time should be two weeks, according to Pinkney.

“Sometimes there was a backlog of 4-6 weeks,” she said.

The card is then mailed to the Public Health Department closest to where the patient lives and it's up to them to pick up the card, Pinkney explained.

All those steps do take time and now Georgia’s Department of Public Health says it's making an effort to trim that time down.

Steps include adding a call center, shipping the cards daily rather than twice a week and adding pickup locations which would increase pick-up spots from 18 to 42.

Skriba said she’s relieved to finally have her son’s medicine in hand but feels for everyone else still waiting.

“A lot of these people don’t realize how quickly we need this card,” said Skriba.

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