Georgia state Sen. Matt Brass, R–Newnan updated Coweta Kiwanians on August 27th about state budget matters and the status of the state's "THC Medical Marijuana" law.
Brass, a Newnan native who represents GA District 28, was sworn into office in January 2017.
At the end of April 2020, the state's economy was in a major crisis, Brass said. However, by mid-May, as the Governor was allowing some businesses to reopen, sales tax revenues began rising. Some of this rise was in part due to sales taxes being captured through GA's online sales tax law, the Market Facilitator Act.
By June when the Senate went back into session, revenues began picking back up, but compared to the same time frame in 2019. revenues were still lagging.
Based on projections from the State Appropriations Committee, The Governor's Office and the Office of Planning and Budget (OPB), State Agencies were directed to reduce their FY21 budgets by approximately 14%, according to Brass.
However, increases in July revenues helped lighten such cuts to only about 9%. Brass indicated that the State still struggles to pay unemployment benefits, due in part to a record high of 13-14% unemployment during just three weeks in April. Unemployment continues to be a critical problem, especially overwhelming state offices with requests about benefits not yet received.
On the topic of medical marijuana, Brass, who chaired the State Study Commission, informed Kiwanians about "THC Medical Marijuana Production" law, enacted in 2019. Brass emphasized that legislators specifically crafted the law to put THC Medical Marijuana directly in patient's hands.
The law recognizes 17 medical diagnoses for which doctors can prescribe the legal use/possession of 5% THC oil. It established a commission that will issue up to five 'growing licenses' for the legal production indoors of 5% THC medical marijuana in GA. Each licensed grower will have to maintain high security and provide a detailed plan for distribution and disposal of any product not sold.
The commission has been formed, but has not finalized an application process. It is hoped the commission may be ready to open the application process by late Fall 2020, Brass said. Those who become license holders will have 12 months to produce and distribute medical marijuana with close monitoring of its distribution as per prescription regulations.
When asked about 'CBD Oil" or 'hemp', which is .03% THC, he noted that there is little regulation or quality control of it by government.
The Kiwanis Club of Coweta County meets simultaneously face-to-face and via ZOOM on the 2nd and 4th Thursday mornings. The club offers “a variety of high-interest meeting programs to empower our members for improving the community and the lives of children and youth.”