Georgia Governor Nathan Deal made headlines last week for supporting a ‘new bill to legalize medical marijuana.’ This new bill would kill Georgians’ chances at being able to develop a localized medical marijuana industry, and offers zero opportunities to purchase medicine within state lines.
Patients and their families that had been awaiting the opportunity to access medical marijuana legally were disappointed to learn that the new bill, the result of a closed-door discussion between Deal and State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), would merely offer prosecutorial “immunity” for “certain citizens” who brought legally-purchased marijuana into Georgia from other states. This would amount to forcing people to break federal law in order to take advantage of the program, a fact that Deal and Peake have not acknowledged, choosing instead to repeat the line that the bill will “be bringing Georgia families back home.”
James Bell, director of Georgia’s Campaign for Access Reform and Education (C.A.R.E.) Project, condemned the move: “They have pulled the wool over our eyes and pulled the rug out from under the citizens of Georgia that support medical marijuana. They have betrayed the will and desire of the people of Georgia with their political shenanigans.”
Rep. Peake, meanwhile, argued that “we need to conduct more research on setting an in-state growing scenario in order to provide the best and most effective infrastructure for our citizens.” The bill does provide for the creation of a council charged with performing research in order to establish a regulatory model for a Georgian medical marijuana growth and distribution system in the future.
While Peake called the HB 1 “a huge step forward,” Blaine and Shannon Cloud, whose daughter Alaina suffers from seizures, expressed dismay in an interview with WSB-TV Atlanta. Shannon Cloud said that it was “a disappointing day for all of the families because we had high hopes this was going to be the year and Georgia was actually going to do it the right way.”
Medical marijuana advocates in Georgia had received some unexpected help last year when Rep. Peake adopted the issue and filed a house bill that focused on making CBD oil (Cannabidiol) available for patients with epilepsy. The bill failed to pass, but in November Peake pre-filed House Bill 1 for the 2015 legislative session, promising constituents that it would allow them to obtain cannabis oil in the state.
Peake acknowledged this in a statement made Friday:
“Last year, I made a promise to bring our families home and to give Georgians a chance to obtain cannabis oil in our state without fear of prosecution, and this has remained a priority. The changes that we have agreed upon for HB 1 vary slightly from the original version, but the bottom line is that we will be bringing Georgia families back home.”
Meanwhile, the Georgia C.A.R.E. project has encouraged the public to abandon HB 1 and to focus attention instead on Senator Curt Thompson’s (D) Senate Bill 7, which would allow Georgian physicians to recommend certain patients up to two ounces of medical marijuana.
Photo Credit: Brett Weinstein
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