It seems to hold true that southern states like to cling to the ways of the past when it comes to many things – marijuana legalization being one of them. Georgia has some of the most restrictive marijuana laws in the entire country, allowing only small amounts of CBD cannabis oil and providing no legal means of obtaining the oil.
The Haleigh’s Hope Act allows people with intractable epilepsy have the option of medicating with CBD oil, which as most of us know by now is the non-psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana. Last year, the man behind that act and a program called Journey of Hope (a program which took families to Colorado to obtain the oils they needed) intended to expand the law to include more qualifying conditions as well as a program to cultivate and distribute the oil.
Unfortunately, even before proceeding to propose the bill to the House, Allen Peake already knew it had little to no chance of being signed into law. A series of emails was leaked after being obtained by Chris Hopper of 11Alive News which reveal that the state Governor had absolutely no intention of allowing the current law to be expanded in any way.
In November, Peake forwarded information regarding a trip to Minnesota to learn about the state’s medical marijuana program to Governor Deal’s executive council. The response he got back was short and disappointing: “Need to shut down the other trips. Governor not supportive of any further trips on the issue.”
Peake wrote back explaining that since everything was already set up he would travel on his “own dime” and “go solo”. He made his point loud and clear – he wasn’t about to give up on the idea of expanding the state’s medical marijuana program in the following year.
The next email that came in was not quite as short and much “more direct” as even the email itself stated.
“There is no appetite to move any legislation, sign any legislation, or even gather additional information to write legislation on this issue. If you feel the need to continue to pursue this, I am going to need to you to step down as floor leader because I don’t want you to be embarrassed when the Governor states this in a public setting and your [sic] left holding the bag.”
Though it was clear the governor was not planning to change his mind on the subject, Peake was not prepared to give up – so he pursued. More emails concluded that the Governor’s stance was as long as marijuana remained a Schedule I drug on a federal level, Georgia would continue to have no part of it.
Peake explained that with 23 states already successfully implementing a fully functioning medical marijuana program with little to no real problems, that there were enough smart individuals to create regulations that would keep citizens safe. No matter what he had to say on the matter, it was clear that the Governor’s mind was already made on this one.
After initially passing through the House after being reduced to only qualifying conditions with no means of cultivation or distribution the bill eventually died in the Senate. For now, it appears that a valid medical marijuana program is going to be out of reach for those in need in Georgia – whose citizens are overwhelmingly supportive of the idea even when their government is not.