MARIETTA, Ga. — Steve Morris has made a painstaking effort to treat his pain for years. The Navy veteran served in the armed forces from 1979 to 1982.
"You go through something like that in the service and it trains you to be a different person physically and mentally," the Lithia Springs man said. "My lower back is destroyed. The ins and outs of being on the vessel, especially a small vessel that moves around, you take a lot of hits on your spine and other places."
Morris' multi-year journey for relief led him an hour's drive away to Trulieve dispensary in Marietta. Trulieve and Botanical Sciences are the only two companies authorized to legally sell medical cannabis in Georgia. However, Trulieve is the only company to have operational dispensaries right now.
For the last month, Morris and 1,000 other people have bought medical cannabis across the state, according to Lisa Harris, Trulieve Georgia's director of operations.
"We've seen individuals from north Georgia and south Georgia making a long trek to get the necessary products that they need," Harris said. "We’ve seen great sales in tinctures specifically and sublingual. We do all our growing and production within the state of Georgia, so we’re very self-sufficient.”
While Harris would not tell 11Alive exactly how much money Trulieve had made in the last month, demand for medical cannabis continues to grow in Georgia. More than 28,000 people are registered as patients in the Peach State for low-dose THC oil to treat 18 different conditions.
"The biggest hurdle is really patients being able to obtain their cards, which they're diligently doing with the Georgia Department of Public Health," Harris said. "And the wait times, at times, can be a little bit longer for some patients. Some typically waited four to six weeks."
On Wednesday, the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission approved Trulieve to open a location in Newnan, which Harris said could be up and running sometime this summer.
Next month, the Georgia Board of Pharmacy is set to hold a public hearing to debate whether to expand access to medical cannabis to local pharmacies. Morris said he would be in favor of expansion. After decades of pain, PTSD and waiting, the Navy veteran said every painful step is worth it to get relief.
"My pain has lessened to the point where I can actually go shopping with my wife," Morris said. "It's definitely life-changing."