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ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia has opened the application process for businesses who want to manufacture cannabis oil for medical use in the state.

The General Assembly legalized the treatment for a limited number of conditions five years ago, and the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission has now approved the process that would allow roughly 14,000 registered patients to receive it, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The application, accessible via the group's website, must be received by 2 p.m. on Dec. 28.

"I do think this is the first step in a really great economic development opportunity with an emphasis on Georgia business and small business development," Andrew Turnage, the commission's executive director, told the newspaper. "The commission works very hard to keep this process moving forward every single day."

The state legislature passed a bill last year allowing the production and sale of medical marijuana, though authorized patients have been able to use it since 2015. Once the commission issues licenses — likely by March — manufacturers say it could take up to a year before they can supply the oil to patients.

State law allows licenses for six companies to grow medical marijuana. The level of THC, the chemical in marijuana that produces a high, cannot be higher than 5%.

Medical marijuana manufacturing facilities must have round-the-clock security, video monitoring and keycards that record employee and visitor access, the newspaper reported. Manufacturers must also provide tracking throughout production and allow law enforcement officers to inspect facilities on demand.

The commission plans to grant licenses to two 100,000-square-foot (9,290 square-meter) facilities and four 50,000-square-foot (4,645 square-meter) facilities, the newspaper reported.

Next, the commission plans to draw up regulations for the granting of licenses to dispensaries to distribute the oil.

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