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Georgia’s Governor Needs To Support A REAL Medical Marijuana Bill

nathan deal georgia medical marijuana

(via wikipedia)

Georgia’s Governor has endorsed a ‘medical marijuana’ bill in Georgia’s Legislature. The symbolic move is great, unless you read the details of the bill. All the bill does is protect patients from being arrested in Georgia if they are caught possessing medical marijuana. The patients cannot grow the marijuana in Georgia, and they cannot purchase the marijuana in Georgia. I hate to break it to Georgia’s Governor, but that is not really a medical marijuana program. Any program that requires patients to break federal interstate trafficking laws to obtain medicine is not a real medical marijuana program.

At least one parent is disappointed. Shannon Cloud’s daughter suffers from seizures. Per WSBTV:

“(It’s) 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,” said Shannon Cloud.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal is acting like this is a bold, compassionate move if the bill becomes law. He acts like it is a great way to help patients, and that he supports patients. If that were true, than he would push for a real medical marijuana bill. All this bill does is protect patients who are caught within Georgia’s borders from prosecution. But by the time they are in possession of medical marijuana within Georgia’s borders, they have already broken federal law, putting them in a tough position. That’s not compassion, and obviously doesn’t help patients as much as they need.


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Johnny Green


  1. Fact is, I’m not sure what the back-scratching order is between Nathan Deal and GW Pharmaceuticals. It’s a long, convoluted story. A story of Republicans stabbing other Republicans in the back, over and over.

    Medical cannabis suddenly became an issue in Georgia about a year ago, when the 2014 session was starting. HB885 was introduced by the Republican representative to the GA House from Macon, Allen Peake, after he was contacted by the parents of children with intractable epilepsy, who had seen Sanjay Gupta’s CNN documentary. The issue broke quickly and built an incredible amount of momentum leading into the midterm elections. In the 2014 election, Nathan Deal was getting ready to defend his office from Democrat challenger Jason Carter, Jimmy Carter’s grandson. Georgia always has gubernatorial races in midterm years, but Jason Carter was a realistic challenge for two reasons: he’s a legacy candidate, and Deal has been under an ethics investigation for selling a failing junkyard for $10 million to an out-of-state business that owes the state of Georgia $73 million in unpaid taxes.

    HB885, from the onset, was extremely limited: it was the very first “CBD-only” bill to pop up, only allowing cannabis extract oil high in CBD and low in THC. No whole-plant access. Limited, yes, but ultimately that was a moot point. HB885 had no provisions to cultivate/process the oil. It would have failed even if it had passed. By the time it was ready for a final vote, it only allowed for protection from prosecution (by Georgia, not the Federal government) for parents willing to risk interstate drug trafficking. The parents would have to drive to another state, find someone willing to break that state’s laws by selling to out-of-state patients, and then smuggle the extract oil back to Georgia. It was a completely asinine non-solution, which is why everyone was caught off-guard when the GA Senate Republican majority leader, Renee Unterman, attached rider legislation to HB885 she knew the GA House Republican leader wouldn’t vote on (insurance coverage for autistic kids), thus killing the bill on the last day of the 2014 session. Unterman likely did so at the behest of the health industry, not for autistic children. She ran UNOPPOSED in 2014, but still collected over $100k in campaign donations *after* she killed HB885. The bill died, but hardly nobody in the legislature — in either chamber — voted against it. The reason nobody dared vote against it was that the aforementioned momentum generated by the mothers of little babies dying of intractable epilepsy was too strong. Anyone voting against it would have been flamed at the ballot for lacking compassion.

    When the 2014 session ended with no bill becoming law, the disappointment (and anger) from the public was palpable, so three things happened in quick succession. First, the legislature passed a senate bill establishing a study commission: three hearings throughout the summer in various GA locations at which testimony on the feasibility of medical cannabis in Georgia would be given. Second, Allen Peake swore to file another bill in the 2015 session (HB1) that would include in-state cultivation so that the families that split up and moved to Colorado could come back to Georgia. Third, Nathan Deal (facing all that building election year heat) made a backroom deal with GW Pharmaceuticals to run trials of their CBD drug at GRU so that he could *appear* compassionate, too.

    Deal’s office would release a press statement every few weeks from the Spring through the Autumn insisting the trials were on the way. Personally, I believed he was just *saying* they were on the way because I did not understand how/why GW Pharma would pay for *more* trials, as they were already running clinical trials, elsewhere. After Deal won re-election, I learned the GRU trials were going to cost Georgia $8 million dollars Deal agreed to pay *them* — usually the drug company pays for THEIR trials!

    However, given the news this week, it is my belief that backroom agreement with GW Pharma also included a promise from Deal to veto any legislation that included in-state cultivation and processing of any cannabis product — not even the oil. That’s something Allen Peake just learned, it seems. Peake had promised his new bill would include in-state cultivation (but would still only allow extract oil) after the fiasco over sourcing, last session — a promise Peake repeated over and over leading into the 2014 election.

    This week, Nathan Deal forced Allen Peake to break that promise. Nathan Deal announced he will not sign any bill that includes in-state cultivation. They released a bunch of contrived, forced statements trying to put a positive spin on this news. Peake had to sit next to the governor for the press and pretend like he’s happy about this “step in the right direction” that takes us nowhere. I would have felt sorry for Peake, had he not been running around for the last six months extoling the evils of THC over the virtues of CBD. He’s been undercutting his own issue, laboring under the misapprehension that he can appear to be compassionate without appearing too liberal. Peake thought he was walking that tightrope fairly well until Deal yanked it out from beneath him. Until this week, everyone (Peake, especially) thought that HB1 was going to sail through the legislature and become law, which is why the comprehensive medical cannabis bill, SB7, filed by a Democrat from Gwinnet, has gotten zero attention.

    Clearly, HB1 has been reduced to yet another symbolic gesture, and SB7 is not happening, either. It’s surprising they’re even attempting to make this sound like a good thing. Nobody is fooled, everyone is disappointed, and the anger is starting to build up, again. Sadly, there’s no election this year to vent that anger.

    What blows my mind is that Deal has given so VERY much to GW Pharmaceuticals. He gave them $8 million to run the trials (for just 50 people?!?!), plus a supposed veto-promise on any bill that includes cultivation, thus plucking Peake’s chicken in the process. That’s a LOT. I know Deal was able to make a good bit of political hay on this leading into November 2014, but the election wasn’t even that close. It doesn’t seem like Deal got much from GW Pharma for what GW Pharma is getting out of it. Deal cannot run for a 3rd term, and he’s too much of an asshole for national politics, so I have no idea what (if anything) Deal is getting from GW Pharmaceuticals for scratching their back *this* hard, if that is what’s happening. It doesn’t make sense to me. If Deal is getting anything, it must be under the table. Meanwhile, Peake has to pretend he wasn’t just forced to break his promise and push through a neutered HB1 that will help, precisely, nobody. It’s just as useless as HB885, despite the last six months of hype.

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