According to previous 11Alive reporting, the number of registered medical marijuana patients directly impacts the number of dispensaries than can open.
ATLANTA — The Georgia Department of Public Health said it has miscounted the number of medical marijuana patients and caregivers for years.
Health officials previously reported the state had about 50,000 people signed up for the low THC oil registry, but now they said that number is only 14,000.
The state health department noticed inconsistencies within the registry and then realized the system included expired and duplicate cards, patients counted as caregivers, and about 3,400 patients who had died.
Six-year-old Emma Grace Yopp often has dozens of seizures a day.
“She started having infantile spasms at six months old, and then she was seizure free until she got COVID two years ago. Since then, she’s had constant seizures daily,” said Angela Yopp, her mother.
Angela Yopp said her daughter was born with a rare seizure disorder, which progressively got worse.
“Her last EEG showed that she was having seizures every millisecond, even though we can’t see them spikes in her brain,” Yopp said.
Emma Grace’s seizures stop within minutes of taking medical cannabis oil, Yopp said.
Now, the Georgia Department of Public Health reports the state has only 13,000 registered patients like Emma Grace instead of the 30,000 it reported this summer. The agency said its database showed 21,000 caregivers, but that number is actually 1,200.
“I think that’s ridiculous. I think they need to do a better job at doing their job,” Yopp said.
DPH Commissioner Kathleen Toomey said the state relied on doctors to remove patients who stopped using low THC oil or died, but many of them stopped reporting that information during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to previous 11Alive reporting, the number of registered medical marijuana patients directly impacts the number of dispensaries than can open. We reached out to the state health department to see how this will affect patients, manufacturers, and dispensaries, but we didn’t hear back by our deadline.
“We were disappointed to learn of this discrepancy because we rely on this data to make critical business decisions,” said Gary Long, CEO of Botanical Sciences. “We are eager to continue working with the state to increase awareness about and broaden Georgians’ access to medical cannabis.”
Botanical Sciences and Trulieve are the state’s two licensed medical marijuana companies.