Although previous reports indicated that Georgia Governor Nathan Deal would support Representative Allen Peake’s new proposal to legalize medical marijuana, a recent press event revealed that the lawmaker took it on the chin during a series of meetings at the Governor’s Mansion, and has since agreed to eliminate a portion of the bill that would allow patients to have access to medicine.
The newly-amended legislation would allow parents with sick children to have, in possession, a non-intoxicating strain of marijuana high in cannabidiol or CBD oil, but would not permit statewide cultivation or distribution of the herb – putting people at risk of violating federal statutes that make it a felony offense to cross state lines with any form of cannabis.
Representative Peake told reporters that he felt the compromise on the medical marijuana bill was fair since it would prevent Georgia prosecutors from going after individuals caught in possession of cannabis oil. “Ideally, I would have liked to see both the immunity language and the grow model in this bill but the fact that we are getting full immunity and protection from prosecution for possession for families to have access to cannabis oil is a huge win and it will allow Georgia families to come home,” he told 13WMAZ.
However, Peake’s latest pseudo-legalization effort to bring medicinal cannabis to the Empire of the South has not impressed advocates in favor of establishing a functional statewide medical marijuana program. “They have pulled the wool over our eyes and pulled the rug out from under the citizens of Georgia that support medical marijuana,” said James Bell of Georgia C.A.R.E. Project, a local campaign dedicated to the reform of the state’s marijuana laws. “They have betrayed the will and desire of the people of Georgia with their political shenanigans.”
Essentially, Governor Deal told Peake that he would not support any legislation in favor of growing or distributing medical marijuana until after the state developed an appropriate strategy for establishing a regulatory system. “It’s not as fast as I would’ve liked, but we had to do something that would pass the Governor’s desk,” said Peake.
Unfortunately, the new bill is absolutely worthless, and will do nothing to ensure the health and well being of Georgia patients. While it may provide immunity in regards to prosecution in the state of Georgia, it would not shelter against the wrath of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Schedule I classification of the herb, which makes the transport of marijuana a more serious offense than smuggling cocaine. It is for that reason that proponents of pot reform are disgusted with the language of this measure.
“Disappointment does not describe our feeling in this matter,” said Bell. “The least we expected was a fair hearing on HB-1 during the session. Instead, Allen Peake gave into the demands of Governor Deal and left the sick children to deal with their medical conditions on their own. Lawmakers look to states like Colorado for the answer but refuse to implement a similar policy.”
On a positive note, Peake says that while the bill may not be the answer to providing Georgia patients with safe access to cannabis oil, the measure will require the formation of a coalition responsible for researching methods for allowing the cultivation and distribution of marijuana across the state. This committee would be forced to submit their recommendation before the end of 2015, with the potential of a regulatory system put into place the following year.