The southern states are some of the slowest to move towards legalizing the use of medical marijuana for those who need it – and last year, one Georgia State Representative’s attempts were shut down from the very beginning. House Representative Allen Peake made trips to other states with fully functioning medical marijuana programs in order to help write legislation that would hopefully expand the current CBD-only laws in the state. Unfortunately, he received an email explaining that the state had “no appetite to move any legislation, sign any legislation, or even gather additional information to write legislation on the issue.”
However, that did not stop Peake from moving forward with his informative journey – which he paid for himself and took on his own time. This year he is planning to introduce legislation that would expand access to medical marijuana. The current law allows CBD for patients suffering from epilepsy – but provides no legal way for patients to actually access the medicine, making it illegal to cultivate, sell or import from a state with a legal market. There is a big need for an in-state supply of cannabis oil, even if it is CBD-only, that way the patients who do manage to get approved can get their medicine without fear of arrest.
“So until there are changes done at the federal level, we’re going to have to find a solution in Georgia and the real solution is to be able to provide a cultivation model in Georgia, where we can grow it, process it, and distribute it here in Georgia,” said Peake.
Unfortunately, while there is so little support for medical marijuana, even Peake is uncertain that this legislation will have a shot at passing – however, with Florida directly next door having passed Amendment 2, as well as other southern states recently passing medical marijuana laws, there is a chance they will decide to push it through simply to avoid patients bringing the product in illegally from other states. Hopefully seeing the majority of the United States having legalized medical marijuana, the conservative southern state will decide to be a little more progressive about a plant that has such promising therapeutic potential.
“Maybe the best solution is let’s let the Georgia citizens decide by referendum in 2018, and we’ll let the next governor decide how it’s implemented,” said Peake.
The state of Georgia – unlike Florida, Arkansas and so many others – does not have the option of a voter-initiated ballot referendum, meaning there is no petition process, no signature gathering and no chance that the citizens could push through such a law. However, Peake is hopeful that there may be a chance for lawmakers (who cannot decide whether or not the plant should be legal for medicinal use) will simply leave it up to the voters in a state ballot referendum during the next election. But it must first be introduced and placed on the ballot by lawmakers.
Once the citizens make their decision, it would be up to lawmakers to implement the law. While it seems like more work than simply agreeing that patients need access to safer alternatives, it would at least let lawmakers know that this is what the voters want – this is what the residents of their state want – and that they should no longer stand in the way of it, and at that point they would no longer be able to. Even if it is a long shot, it’s still nice to see someone as dedicated as Peake has been, pushing for legalization in one of the nation’s most conservative states.