A Look at Medical Marijuana in Georgia: Why So Slow?

Yes I called it marijuana and not cannabis for the same reasons people use the term tobacco and not Nicotiana tabacum. There is no reason to try and sanitize a word or plant that does no harm to people and in fact does quite a bit of good. Voters in Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C. have voted to approve sweeping pro-marijuana legalization in the recent midterms. Ballot initiatives in states such as California, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada and Arizona are likely to be put to voters in 2016. Florida had a referendum which nearly passed but had a very high threshold of 60%. Ironically the Casino billionaire booze peddler Sheldon Addelson lobbied hard fighting this Florida bill and spent over $5 million to defeat the bill.  Florida is the only state that requires 60% to pass a ballot initiative. He doesn’t mind alcoholics or gambling addicts spending money in his casinos, but God forbid some sick children in Florida might be able to get help. He has also spent a fortune lobbying against online gambling.

For anyone hoping to learn more about medical cannabis I highly recommend this book called Cannabis Pharmacy by Michael Backes. Any questions you ever had about cannabis this book will probably answer. It is very well put together and easy to understand. Evidence-based information on using cannabis for ailment and conditions. Marijuana has been subjected to a smear campaign for over a half century. It’s time for the facts to prevail. Buzzed by Dr. Cynthia Kuhn who is a professor of pharmacology at the Duke University School of Medicine is also a great reference that separates facts from fiction that many of these uninformed politicians that write laws would be well advised to read.

So where is Georgia in this debate?

In Georgia they are “studying” the issue. But there is a  limited bill in January that will pass. Though this bill is a very incremental and minor step, it is nonetheless a positive sign in state like Georgia. The bill that passed earlier this year hit a snag with some political brinkmanship. In reality we should have passed this bill many years ago. California first allowed medical marijuana back in1996. It seems almost inexcusable so many states still do not even permit medicinal use so many years later. Cannabis has been studied for around a century now with hundreds if not thousands of studies that focused on recreational and medical uses and none have found it nearly as harmful as tobacco, alcohol, or even many prescription medications with far fewer side effects than medications that are approved.

indexI have a few questions I would love to ask the Governor and legislature in Atlanta.

  • Why is tobacco legal in Georgia when it causes around 480,000 Americans to die every year and 5 million globally. Additionally for every person who dies from a smoking-related disease, about 30 more people suffer with at least one serious illness from smoking like cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases (including emphysema, bronchitis, and chronic airway obstruction), and diabetes.
  • Why is alcohol  legal when the government says alcohol is responsible for one in every 10 deaths of Americans aged 20 to 64. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that excessive drinking not only leads to fatal car crashes and violence but also deadly cases of breast cancer, and liver and heart disease.
  • Are you completely unaware of thousands of studies conducted over the last 60 years that prove marijuana is relatively safe? Granted it can cause cancer not unlike cigarettes which are legal, but so would inhaling the smoke of pumpkin seeds or pretty much any plant over an extended amount of time. I do want to point out the likelihood of lung cancer from smoking marijuana versus cigarettes is an order of magnitude smaller. Many of the carcinogens found in cigarettes are absent and you do not inhale as much smoke or as frequently. Consuming marijuana as an oil, in vaporized form, or in a food product would be an obvious solution to avoid any concerns over lung cancer.

For years the government has been wasting billions of tax dollars on a bizarre propaganda scare campaign against marijuana, an enjoyable and  harmless drug with so many curative properties we are still discovering.  While smoking marijuana, like cigarettes, is not good for your lungs, an objective evaluation of the adverse health impacts of marijuana shows that cannabis is substantially less harmful than alcohol and tobacco – legal drugs many people enjoy whose dangers are well-established, substantial, and undeniable. The main proponent of this new bill Allen Peake  proudly boasted that “security will be tighter than a prison” and Georgia is looking to get as far away from Colorado as we can get” What he fails to mention is all his opinions have no scientific validity and are simply based off of largely ignorant and erroneous propaganda and opinions. Colorado is also beating Georgia on pretty much every important metric so I am not sure that is a good goal to aspire towards and also a lie if this Georgia poll is to be believed where 54% of Georgia supports a bill similar to Colorado. 

According to the CDC, prescription medication is:

  • the leading cause of injury death in 2012. Among people 25 to 64 years old, drug overdose caused more deaths than motor vehicle traffic crashes.
  • Drug overdose death rates have been rising steadily since 1992 with a 117% increase from 1999 to 2012 alone.1
  • In 2012, 33,175 (79.9%) of the 41,502 drug overdose deaths in the United States were unintentional, 5,465 (13.2%) were of suicidal intent, 80 (0.2%) were homicides, and 2,782 (6.7%) were of undetermined intent.

Putting aside the hypocrisy of simply not legalizing marijuana for recreation use for a moment, why are states like Georgia so slow to at least legalize it for medicinal use? There is a growing body of evidence showing that marijuana can provide relief to people suffering from various cancers, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, and other physical and mental conditions.  Thus, there is a strong argument for “medical marijuana.” Some argue that marijuana is a gateway drug even though more studies seem to discount that notion. But for the sake of argument let’s pretend it is true. That neither negates the real medical benefits of marijuana nor the other valid reasons for legalizing marijuana anymore than prescription opioids.

Another common complaint opponents often cite is that the weed people smoke today is not the same as the hippies smoked at Woodstock in 1969. That claim is debatable, but even if it were true it doesn’t mean marijuana users today risk more harm.  Rather it just means they have to smoke less to feel the drug’s pleasurable effects. To my knowledge (and I looked very hard for this info) there have never been any deaths from smoking weed. NOT ONE! By the time it took you to read that sentence probably a dozen people died in an alcohol related accident.

What was the impetus for criminalizing Cannabis?

A very detailed and far more thorough Timeline can be found here on BBC. I will just mention a few highlights.

It began with overt Racism against Americans of Mexican ancestry in the U.S in the early 1900’s. This included  new immigrants that fled into the U.S.  after the Mexican revolution of 1910. During the Great Depression of the 1930’s this unfounded fear increased exponentially. Escalating public and governmental concern about the problem of marijuana. This instigated a flurry of research which tried to link the use of marijuana with violence, crime and other socially deviant behaviors, primarily committed by “racially inferior” or underclass communities. By 1931, 29 states had outlawed marijuana based off of pure racism alone. 

In 1936 a propaganda film “Reefer Madness” was produced by the French director, Louis Gasnier. After a lurid national propaganda campaign against the “evil weed,” Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act. The statute effectively criminalized marijuana, restricting possession of the drug to individuals who paid an excise tax for certain authorized medical and industrial uses.

In 1944  the  La Guardia Report found marijuana was not dangerous. New York Academy of Medicine issued an extensively researched report declaring that, contrary to earlier research and popular belief, use of marijuana did not induce violence, insanity or sex crimes, or lead to addiction or other drug use. This was a very thorough five year study.

The report offended Harry Anslinger who branded it as “unscientific. Harry Anslinger denounced Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, the New York Academy of Medicine and the doctors who had worked for more than five years on the research. Anslinger, the countries first Drug Czar, said that they should not conduct more experiments or studies on marijuana without his personal permission. Anslinger interrupted, between 1944 and 1945, each current research on derivatives of cannabis, and according to some personally commissioned the American Medical Association to prepare a position which would reflect the position of the government that cannabis should be found harmful regardless of what the evidence showed.

The study conducted by AMA between 1944 and 1945 on Anslinger’s personal request, having as objective to disprove the statements of the La Guardia Report, leveraged again on racism, asserting that “of the experimental group, thirty-four men were black, and only one was white”, and “those who smoked marijuana, became disrespectful of white soldiers and officers during military segregation”.

In 1972, the same institutional source that spread the series of scientifically unfounded rumors about the dangers of cannabis admitted that “these stories were largely false” and that “with careful consideration of the documentation there is no confirmation of the existence of a causal relationship between marijuana use and the possible use of heroin”. Thus, it was declared that the ban on cannabis was imposed and still subsisted “without any serious and comprehensive research had been conducted on the effects of marijuana”.

In the 1960’s reports commissioned by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson also found that marijuana use did not induce violence nor lead to use of heavier drugs. Policy towards marijuana began to involve considerations of treatment as well as criminal penalties. In 1968 the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs is created which was a merger of FBN and the Bureau of Dangerous Drugs of the Food and Drug Administration.

In 1970 the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act categorized marijuana separately from other narcotics and eliminated mandatory federal sentences for possession of small amounts and in 1972 bipartisan Shafer Commission, appointed by President Nixon at the direction of Congress, considered laws regarding marijuana and determined that personal use of marijuana should be decriminalized. Nixon rejected the recommendation, but over the course of the 1970s, eleven states decriminalized marijuana and most others reduced their penalties.

In 1973 the DEA was formed. Later in the 1970’s conservative parents’ groups lobbying ( a precursor to the Moral Majority movement) for stricter regulation of marijuana and the prevention of drug use by teenagers and called their crusade the War on Drugs. (A term which would later be adopted in a televised speech by president Bush in 1989). By 1986 they had successfully convinced enough people based on absolutely no scientific or even anecdotal evidence that marijuana was dangerous simply because they shrieked the loudest and also became an important voting bloc for the Republican party.

President Reagan signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, instituting mandatory sentences for drug-related crimes. In conjunction with the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, the new law raised federal penalties for marijuana possession and dealing, basing the penalties on the amount of the drug involved. Possession of 100 marijuana plants received the same penalty as possession of 100 grams of heroin. A later amendment to the Anti-Drug Abuse Act established a “three strikes and you’re out” policy, requiring life sentences for repeat drug offenders, and providing for the death penalty for some. Today there are people serving life sentences for smoking marijuana thanks to three strikes laws.

In the years since the Shafer Commissions report was released, researchers have conducted thousands of studies of humans, animals, and cell cultures. None have revealed any findings dramatically different from those described by the National Commission in 1972 or years earlier. In 1995, based on thirty years of scientific research, editors of the British medical journal “Lancet” concluded that “the smoking of cannabis, even long term, is not harmful to health”.

Why is cannabis considered a Schedule 1 Narcotic

Schedule I drugs are substances, or chemicals that are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence and can also carry the most severe penalties for punishment. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote

Schedule II drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, less abuse potential than Schedule I drugs, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous. Some examples of Schedule II drugs are:  cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin

Our government classifies marijuana as more dangerous than cocaine or meth. Think about that for a minute as you laugh out loud. The Marijuana Tax Act back in 1937 effectively banned marijuana but it wasn’t literally made illegal until the passing of the Controlled Substances Act in the 1970’s.

At most marijuana might meet the definition of a schedule IV drug. Schedule IV drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence. Some examples of Schedule IV drugs are: Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Valium, Ativan, Talwin, Ambien

In 1970, Congress placed cannabis into Schedule I on the advice of Assistant Secretary of Health Roger O. Egeberg. His letter to Harley O. Staggers, Chairman of the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, indicates that the classification was intended to be provisional. At the time Congress created the Controlled Substances Act the United States public was debating reconsideration of criminal penalties for marijuana use and sales.

“Dear Mr. Chairman: In a prior communication, comments requested by your committee on the scientific aspects of the drug classification scheme incorporated in H.R. 18583 were provided. This communication is concerned with the proposed classification of marihuana.

“It is presently classed in schedule I(C) along with its active constituents, the tetrahydrocannibinols and other psychotropic drugs.

“Some question has been raised whether the use of the plant itself produces “severe psychological or physical dependence” as required by a schedule I or even schedule II criterion. Since there is still a considerable void in our knowledge of the plant and effects of the active drug contained in it, our recommendation is that marihuana be retained within schedule I at least until the completion of certain studies now underway to resolve the issue. If those studies make it appropriate for the Attorney General to change the placement of marihuana to a different schedule, he may do so in accordance with the authority provided under section 201 of the bill.

“We are advised by the Office of Management and Budget that there is no objection to the presentation of this report from the standpoint of the administration’s program.

“Sincerely yours, (signed) Roger O. Egeberg, M.D.”
The reference to “certain studies” is to the then-forthcoming National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse. In 1972, the Commission released a report favoring decriminalization of cannabis, it concluded that “while marijuana was not entirely safe, its dangers had been grossly overstated”. At this point marijuana should have been decriminalized but that finding didn’t suit the political requirements of President Nixon who wanted a report which supported his views and “tough on crime” policies. The report was therefore ignored and marijuana stayed in Schedule I.

Sixteen years later, after two years of public hearings “involving many witnesses and thousands of pages of documentation”, DEA Chief Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young ruled that marijuana did not meet the legal criteria of a Schedule I prohibited drug and should be reclassified. He declared that “In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume. It is physically impossible to eat enough marijuana to induce death. Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man”.

Instead of Judge Young’s decision leading to the rescheduling of marijuana in 1986, DEA Administrator John Lawn overruled it and marijuana stayed in Schedule I.

In summary, a combination of overt racism against black and latino Americans, am inaccurate propaganda film, some  self-serving bureaucrats and politicians are the main reasons. Additional factors include ignoring scientific data and lobbying from groups such as the Moral Majority and pharmaceutical companies that didn’t want any competition.

 

Why is Georgia taking so long?

This is the million dollar question. Why is Georgia nearly always last in everything else as well. Ballot initiatives raising the minimum wage passed with broad bipartisan support in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota, where the measure polled better than any major statewide candidate from either party. These are all Republican states like Georgia. Georgia always seems to be last in line for any major shifts. This includes civil rights, miscegenation laws, marriage equality, equal pay for women and so many other issues where we finally tend to catch up with other states decades later. In fact about the only thing that moves fast in Georgia is the Slow Poke bill which penalizes slow drivers. But if you want to try and legalize marijuana in Georgia be prepared for a lot of excuses.

“We treat it more like plutonium than wine,” says James Bell, director of Georgia C.A.R.E. Project — the Campaign for Access, Reform, and Education — an organization that seeks complete legalization of medical, industrial, and recreational marijuana. Medical access would be a step in the right direction, he says.

image

I will give credit to Allen Peake who has become the face of the legalization efforts. He is an advocate for a type of oil used for seizures primarily. I won’t even blame him for his parents choosing to spell his name “Allen” instead of the far more civilized and correct way which everyone knows is Alan. 😉 You can often find Mr. Peake on Twitter giving updates on CNN reports or other studies which is admirable.  He has also responded to a few direct questions I posed though Twitter is not the best place for detailed discussion.

I also understand he is doing his best within the confines or rather severe restraints of the Georgia political climate. Georgia is not conservative it is ultra-conservative, so his hands are tied to a large extent and I am sure he is more frustrated with the slow progress than anyone though I do not know his views on this issue prior to last year.

I believe he first became an advocate after learning about a Monroe County, Georgia family named Cox that have a young daughter  that experienced numerous seizures a day and finally had no choice but to move to Colorado. The father was forced to remain in Georgia to support the family financially.  What a nightmarish scenario which splits a family up over a thousand miles due to arcane laws based on faulty data and racism.

A recent Colorado news station just yesterday reported the oil is helping. Haleigh Cox had a total 12 seizure free days, smiles all the time, and is alert. She even said Mama for the very first time ever. The report also mentions there are many other Georgia refugees in Colorado.

Governor Deal has also not exactly been a leader in this effort. Prior to Haleigh Cox gaining national attention I believe he was adamantly opposed.  Although true that he has recently indicated his willingness to sign and approve a bill legalizing marijuana as an oil for epileptic seizures. He has the biggest bully pulpit in the state and he could certainly use that big megaphone to speed things up considerably if he chose to do so and take the bill even further along the lines of Colorado.

It is my hope that since Deal has now been re-elected and does not plan to run for any other office due to his age, that he might do what other brave politicians have done in the past. That is to say do what is right,  not what is politically advantageous. Certainly Teddy Roosevelt is a good example of a man that put principal over party when he instituted some major reforms and shakeups and was known as a “trust buster”.

If Nathan Deal wants to have a real legacy, I suggest he become a a much louder advocate for legalizing marijuana in Georgia and starts making some phone calls to reps and senators to get this done ASAP in January. The next bill they should pass after medical marijuana should be one to allow important and urgent bills to come before special sessions sooner. Why did Haleigh have to wait until January 2015 after the last bill failed? Change the law or even the state constitution if needed to allow special circumstances where things like this don’t happen again. Legislators didn’t mind changing the constitution to fight marriage equality. Why not not change it again to help sick people with a special emergency legislative session when needed? This rigid inflexibility as evidenced by this failure portends poorly for the future should a similar need ever arise.

I also would love to see Nathan Deal fix our broken state boards. These include the Board of Regents, Ports Authority, and many others. Stop appointing rich dilettantes simply because they donated to your campaign and are rich.  Instead let’s have have a system where these positions can be filled by qualified individuals more representative of the state. These boards operate like a modern noblesse oblige which is sickening.  In fact, I strongly think these should be elected offices using current maps for house members.  These boards control billions and are completely unaccountable and operate in total darkness by people who often are unaware they are the vice-chair. Make these boards accountable and open to scrutiny. A new and much improved autonomous ethics agency would also be high on my wish list along with figuring out a way to rehire all those 9,000 teachers for our schools to reduce the teacher-student ratios per classroom.

I hope Haleigh Cox will be allowed to reunite with her family in  Georgia soon. I fully support Allen Peake’s efforts to that end. My concern is that these baby steps are too small and are certainly long overdue. I would also caution that by focusing on just the oil and the types of medicinal marijuana that do not allow the “high” effect, he may be leaving many other very sick people out in the cold. I hope I am wrong and this bill will be as comprehensive as the one in California or similar.

Marijuana has been proven to be an efficacious pain treatment that is far safer and less addictive than prescription medication. Muscle spasms from multiple sclerosis, Nausea from cancer chemotherapy, poor appetite and weight loss caused by chronic illness, such as HIV, or nerve pain, Crohn’s disease are but a few of the ways that marijuana can be beneficial. These people deserve as much compassion and attention as people with seizures.

It is nearly a foregone conclusion that marriage equality and marijuana legalization will eventually be recognized in all fifty states. I am not sure which will win in the race towards passage in all states first, but I can almost guarantee you that the last remaining holdouts will be found right here in Dixie. This map shows just how far behind the south is on these two issues. I would love to see Georgia be the trend setter for a change on issues such as these instead of a laggard. It is time that people judge marijuana not based off of propaganda but off of actual scientific evidence. It is also high time people stopped worrying who other people choose to love like so many other states have done.

 

Decriminalizing Marijuana Is The Right Thing To do

There are  a few other false myths that are used to support the continued illegality of cannabis. 60,000 individuals are behind bars for marijuana offenses at a cost to taxpayers of $1.2 billion per year. A few common sense reasons it should be decriminalized include:

  • Decriminalizing marijuana frees up police resources to deal with more serious crimes.
  • Far more harm is caused by the criminal prohibition of marijuana than by the use of marijuana itself.
  • Decriminalization does not lead to greater marijuana use.
  • Criminal laws prohibiting marijuana possession do not deter marijuana use.

How many lives have been ruined by a marijuana arrest on their record? A drug arrest record can make finding gainful employment very difficult.  Decriminalizing marijuana also paves the way for taxing its use, in the same way that alcohol consumption became rather heavily taxed after the end of Prohibition. The higher the tax rate, the higher the retail price of marijuana, and hence the lower would be its consumption. A good use of the tax revenue would be on education and other efforts to point out the harm from becoming addicted to drugs. Some of the revenue could also be used to support drug clinics and other private groups that are trying to both treat addictions and to discourage individuals from becoming addicts.

Decriminalizing consumption and some production of marijuana would have large beneficial effects to Mexico and illegal immigration to the U.S. from people trying to escape the poverty and violence there. Traditionally, Mexico has produced the majority of marijuana consumed in the US. The distribution of marijuana from Mexico to the US is controlled by powerful drug cartels that have made enormous profits from their trafficking in drugs.  The Mexican government’s battles with these cartels have caused tens of thousands of deaths, and wholesale corruption of Mexican police and government officials. If American farmers could grow this crop overnight that would have a massive impact on these drug cartels and also have a positive effect on illegal immigration into this country.

Decriminalizing consumption would also mean that people here in the U.S. would no longer have to buy it from street drug dealers. Aside from the obvious danger from the dealers themselves, no one knows what they are buying and it could contain toxins and poison which is not the case when bought at a dispensary or you grow your own. 62% of Georgia voters support marijuana decriminalization.

Would it increase the use and experimentation? Probably, but it would also likely reduce the overall rate of addiction to marijuana. The reason is that decriminalization will encourage the development of more clinics that treat this addiction, will help spread the growth of Marijuana Anonymous organizations that help addicts break their addictions, and will produce other efforts to combat severe addictions to marijuana. As a result, while marijuana use may go up, the number of addicts would likely  go down.

Neill Franklin, the retired Baltimore narcotics cop who now leads Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), argues that “If we legalized and taxed drugs… we’d make society safer by bankrupting the cartels and gangs who control the currently illegal marketplace.” If we legalize the sale of marijuana, law-abiding corporations will sell it instead of criminals. You could buy a pack of marijuana cigarettes at the 7-Eleven down the street. Against their massive economies of scale and base of capital investments, the violent drug dealer on the sidewalk would be put out of business overnight and our cities and suburbs would start becoming a lot safer.

Republicans also like to throw around terms like liberty. The right of citizens to make their own choices about their own bodies, their own property, their own finances, and their own lives are all essential to liberty and freedom. If liberty is a principle most Americans value, and their typical rhetoric is more than just lip service, then the government should stop prohibiting marijuana for the same reason it doesn’t prohibit alcohol use, cigarette smoking, birth control, certain kinds of foods, and other choices that Americans make about their own bodies every day. For all these reasons, can we please finally stop the true Reefer Madness which has been the criminalization of a plant that has the ability to do so much good and no harm. The true madness behind marijuana is the fact that it was ever made illegal to begin with, not the lies and propaganda still believed from a French film director who died long ago.

Thank you for your leadership Allen Peake and for pushing for the bill in January that will hopefully pass and assist Haleigh Cox and others. This is a baby step. Full decriminalization must be the ultimate goal however and I hope Georgia will for once not be among the very last states in the country to have our own common sense epiphany over a plant.  Welcome to Bible belt politics at it’s finest.

Edit: After this article was published several hours ago I happened to watch a report from a local news station.

A few notable quotes from the report

“It hit me that if this was my granddaughter, if this was my daughter, I would move heaven and earth to pass legislation to provide access to medicine that would help her,” State Representative Allen Peake (R-District 141)

 

“While it was initially geared to children with seizure disorders, if it’s a part of the plant that is not going to cause any psychoactive effect on an individual then we ought to allow it to be all citizens have access to it,” Peake said.

 

“Let’s come up with a better bill, learn from other states and come up with the best piece of medical cannabis legislation that we can, maybe the best one in the country,” Peake said.

 

“We want to make sure we are sending a clear message that we are not becoming the state of Colorado,” Peake said. “We are not opening Georgia up to a black market of marijuana.”

 

“While it was initially geared to children with seizure disorders, if it’s a part of the plant that is not going to cause any psychoactive effect on an individual then we ought to allow it to be all citizens have access to it,” Peake said.

 

“We want to make sure it’s correct and it doesn’t get to lead to the recreational use of marijuana. We are 100% opposed to that,” Decatur County Sheriff and President of the Georgia Sheriff’s Association Wiley Griffin said.

Allen Peake says you would get a red card, similar to the ones patients use in Colorado, and take it to a distributor to buy the oil. The red card would show that you are registered with the state as a medical cannabis patient. The dispensary will also be able to match your information in an online system to make sure you are eligible to receive cannabis oil. Peake says the oil could cost you up to $400 per month and that is not covered by insurance.

As I feared this is a very limited bill that will result in extremely high costs to patients with few options. For Allen Peake to claim this can be the “best bill in the country” while limiting access to only a $400 a month oil is simply preposterous. It is extremely restrictive and will provide very limited and expensive options. Don’t expect an influx of medical refugees to Georgia considering this bill will only offer a small percentage of the options available in many other states at a far higher cost.

The opposition from Sheriff Griffin above likely has far more to do with reduced revenue from seizing assets than from any moral dilemma or consideration for the lives that have been ruined within the current laws.

He also said he doesn’t want to create a “black market” like the one in Colorado. I would respectfully rebut that a black market is one where items are sold illegally. Perhaps there are still some people that may choose to buy it cheaper off the streets due to the high taxes and prices of buying it legally, but nothing compared to the magnitude of the black market in Georgia where 100% of the buyers are forced to use this as their only source. Marijuana in Colorado is not an illicit product and is sold openly and legally and taxed which discourages not encourages a black market. The exact opposite of the large black market for marijuana here in Georgia that will continue here unless this bill is more in line with other states. Either he doesn’t understand the term or he simply misspoke.

His comment about not wanting to allow a drug with any psychoactive effects is also curious given that this is a very broad term and simply means effecting the user’s brain function.  They generally fall into three categories: depressants, stimulants, and hallucinogens. This would include a very large range of prescription medications but also notably would include alcohol and tobacco. Marijuana is an interesting drug because it doesn’t really fit into any of the 3 categories. Although it does exhibit some mild hallucinogenic effects, it is also thought to be a mild stimulant with effects that mimic that of a depressant.

I certainly understand the importance and benefits of a cannabidiol for young children and others who do not want to experience the effects of feeling “stoned”. But even among that group $400 can be cost prohibitive for many. By not allowing people to have the option to grow a high cbd/low thc strain and make the oil on their own, this bill will still leave many people without the possibility of benefit from medical marijuana.

Demand for the particular high-CBD strain Allen Peake references, Charlotte’s Web, has gone particularly crazy since Dr. Gupta’s show aired, because it was the one mentioned by name. What many panicked parents don’t realize, upon first entering the initially bewildering world of medical cannabis, is that there are a number of other high-CBD strains as well, some with reported numbers higher than those of Charlotte’s Web.

“CBD-only” legislation like the one proposed in Georgia will legalize CBD oil but leave THC illegal. This is particularly unfortunate for a number of reasons. Two of the major ones are (1) research has shown the cannabinoids, including THC and CBD, work most effectively in combination with each other, through syngergistic effects; and (2) the passage of “CBD-only” legislation serves to increase and emphasize the “scariness” and “otherness” of THC. Demonizing THC is just silly, because it’s one of the best, most non-toxic of anti-inflammatories, anti-tumor agents, antioxidants, and neuroprotectants known.

It also means that other upcoming promising treatments like THCA tincture will not be an option in Georgia. Since THCA reportedly works just as well as CBD for seizure control, and THCA is cheaper and more accessible than CBD (especially in the speculative environment created by CBD’s recently skyrocketing popularity), THCA means patient empowerment and options. It appears that the irrational fear, uncertainty, and doubt will continue for many years to come in Georgia barring federal decriminalization. Perhaps now I truly understand why they have refused to allow a voter referendum on medical marijuana. The people in Georgia would likely approve a far less restrictive bill than the ones these fearful politicians seem so terrified of enacting.

They openly state they do not want Georgia to become like Colorado. We should be so lucky. Tax dollars are pouring in, crime is down in Denver, and few of the early concerns about social breakdown have materialized.

Welcome to Georgia where guns in churches and bars are welcome but cannabis is still called the devil’s weed by people who still use the movie Reefer Madness for proof to support their ignorance. This irrational fear-mongering with no legitimate scientific data to support their views is very frustrating to anyone that holds science, logic, and liberty dear. Psychoactives are fine in the peach state as long as you do it the Republican way with some good ol’ fashioned Jack Daniels, Marlboro’s and Xanax.

About The Author

4 Comments

  1. RalphAlongJr November 8, 2014 Reply
  2. Robert Brooks November 8, 2014 Reply
  3. LindoWicker November 8, 2014 Reply
  4. Dawg4Life November 8, 2014 Reply

Reply