2015 was supposed to be the year that medical cannabis finally came to Georgia at least partially. Only the oil would be allowed. Many people correctly in my opinion have equated the way some in Georgia view cannabis more like plutonium than wine. HB1 the bill by Allen Peake, was already an extremely watered down bill that will not help nearly as many people or types of illnesses as most other states. Peake’s bill last year failed due to some last minute political brinkmanship and was called HB 885 also known as Haleigh’s hope named after a young girl from Monroe county with seizures. Haleigh and her mom had to become medical refugees and split their family up by moving to Colorado for help.The father had to stay in Georgia to pay the bills.
HB1 is so named since it is a priority and is 1st on the agenda and was supposed to finally allow medical refugees to return home to Georgia. The original bill last year and the revived one this year was already an overly burdensome, tightly regulated, and overly restrictive mess that few of the effected families supported over the one proposed in the Senate known as SB7, but people were resigned that Georgia is incapable of walking and first had to take baby steps. There was talk of armored cars and barbed wire to protect the oil. Now you understand why I said it is treated more like plutonium than wine.The people in Georgia it seems are far ahead of the ultra-conservative politicians and overwhelmingly in polls support much looser restrictions with 62% in favor of full marijuana decriminalization.
Let’s remember that medical marijuana not only saves lives as a medicine, but current laws also ruin lives by incarcerating thousands and making them virtually unemployable. Who hires someone with a felony drug arrest record? These laws are even turning some non-violent offenders into hardened criminals. A degree from Prison University is an excellent way to turn good people bad after all. How many more lives will be ruined until the politicians in Georgia decriminalize a plant that is far less harmful than tobacco or alcohol which are legal. Of course we all know the real reason is they would not be able to tax it if people grew their own plants. It has nothing to do with the danger only the tax.
Well, apparently that overly restrictive bill was not restrictive enough for Nathan Deal who recently said he will veto a bill that allows in-state growing. What that means is that since cannabis will not be able to be grown in Georgia, families will either have to break federal laws by driving and transporting it back from other states or they will be at the mercy of selected pharmaceutical companies hand-picked as the monopolists dispensers and also potentially setting the price far higher than any other states. Although Allen Peake has tried to put on a brave face, I believe he was very disappointed in this maneuvering by Deal and understands the repercussions all too well.
I personally feel the bill sponsored by state Senator Curt Thompson, a Democrat from DeKalb County, known as SB7 is a much better bill. It is actually two separate bills. One allows for the sale of full plant medical marijuana for people with certain illnesses. The second would allow regulated retail stores to sell marijuana to adults. Thompson would tax the drug and earmark the money for education and transportation projects.
“You could conceivably be raising $160 million a year,” Thompson said.
Thompson’s bills would be much more extensive than Peake’s HB1 which only allows the use of cannabis oil for medical reasons. And now that Deal has also added the proviso that he will not allow any in-state growing HB1 is even further weakened.
Last night I happened to read an extremely powerful blog article from a fellow Georgian. It is called Deal. Real. Before pharmaceutical companies I kneel. I encourage you all to read her entire article. She posits that Deal’s opposition to in-state growing is due to his tight connections to pharmaceutical companies. Specifically she mentioned GW Pharma and their Epidiolex trials. This lady gets it and writes with the knowledge and passion of someone personally effected. She has around 26 other very compelling articles that are also worth the time to read. A short while back I wrote a rather long article on why medical marijuana is taking so long in Georgia and the arguments made by MixedUpMommy certainly confirm what I suspected. When you consider how much safer medical cannabis is compared to prescription medications like the one Deal is pushing it should make you all sick to your stomach that these old geezers are putting the needs of lobbyists and pharmaceutical companies ahead of the needs of very sick and desperate Georgians. Welcome to peach state politics 101.
A short excerpt from her article:
Throughout the 2014 election he was asked where he stood. He was vague and always pointed to what a great job he was doing talking to GW Pharma about bringing Epidiolex trials to Georgia. He was quiet as Rep. Peake led a committee during the months between sessions to create the legislation for HB1. He waited until this past Friday to finally be straight about the fact that he has no interest in genuinely helping the people in Georgia that could benefit. For him to not veto HB1, it must be stripped. He claims to want to appoint a committee to look into growing in 2016. Well, what have you been doing for the past year, Gov. Deal?
Read full Article: Deal. Real. Before pharmaceutical companies I kneel.
Edit: After I wrote this article, someone sent me a link to How big pharma’s money stopped medical marijuana in Georgia I wish I had read this before I wrote my own because it would have made mine much easier to write. The author reaches the exact same conclusion but he also has some additional information concerning Nathan’s Deal relationship with two big pharma companies: GW Pharma and Novartis. Both are big donors to Nathan Deal and major opponents of medical marijuana since it would be their competition. Another cog in this wheel is the involvement of casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a fervent opponent of medical marijuana. Deal met with Adelson as well. Remember that it was Adelson who almost single handedly funded the opposition to a similar bill in Florida very recently. Please read the entire article for more info.