Georgia Has Been Miscounting Medical Cannabis Patients and Caregivers for Years

The Georgia Department of Public Health has reported for years that there were about 50,000 people signed up for its low-THC medical cannabis program but the figure is actually about 14,000.

Full story after the jump.

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has been miscounting the number of medical cannabis patients and caregivers enrolled in its low-THC oil registry for years, 11 Alive reports. Health officials had previously reported there were about 50,000 people signed up for the registry, but the figure is actually about 14,000. 

The inconsistency was due to officials counting expired and duplicate ID cards, patients counted as caregivers, and about 3,400 patients who had died. The state database had counted 21,000 caregivers but the number is actually 1,200. DPH Commissioner Kathleen Toomey told 11 Alive that the state relied on physicians to remove patients who stopped using the oil or died, but many of them stopped reporting the information during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In Georgia, the number of registered medical cannabis patients directly impacts the number of dispensaries that can open. 

Gary Long, CEO of Botanical Sciences, one of the state’s two licensed medical cannabis companies, said the firm is “disappointed to learn of this discrepancy” because it relies on the state data “to make critical business decisions.” 

“We are eager to continue working with the state to increase awareness about and broaden Georgians’ access to medical cannabis,” he told 11 Alive. 

In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Long said “focus should be on how we move past this in a cohesive way that increases awareness of this industry in our state and the availability of these therapeutic products for patients in need.” 

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