Now that Gov. Brian Kemp has signed a bill allowing for the cultivation of medical marijuana, those hoping to secure one of the six state-issued private growing permits are jockeying for position, including the city of Augusta.
The city owns roughly 600 acres of fallow farm land southeast of downtown. Twenty-five acres of that land are suitable for supporting a municipal marijuana farm. The acreage is surrounded by private land that’s been used to grow soybeans, grains and other cash crops.
County Commissioner William Fennoy, in whose district the land is located, said he sees the potential for an influx of revenue flowing to the city coffers. He also recognizes the potential for synergy with research taking place at The Georgia Cancer Center and The Medical College of Georgia, both located on The Augusta University Campus.
But he also has some concerns.
“Start-up costs,” Fennoy said are at the top of the list.
“It has to be grown on the inside," he said. "Then, we would need someone who knows what they’re doing when it comes to growing marijuana inside. And then the area would have to be secured.”
The commissioners have also discussed leasing the land to a state-permitted grower, which might eliminate some of start up cost concerns.
At last week’s meeting, commissioners moved to have the city attorney research any legal obstacles. The analysis is expected to be back in front of the commissioners in the next few weeks.