Many thought 2015 would be the year that Haleigh’s Hope Act also known as HB1 would pass and people with epileptic seizures and a few other illnesses would finally be able to get some relief from the cannabis oil derivative. Georgians forced to move to Colorado as medical refugees were supposed to finally be able to come home and reunite their families. But….
Long story short…Nathan Deal backed out of his campaign promises and threw Allen Peake under the bus. He insisted on no in-state growing and would rather make families with sick members travel out of state and make them into drug smugglers. I doubt few of Georgia’s medical refugees will decide to come home if Deal gets his way.
Nathan Deal has close ties to Sheldon Adelson and pharmaceutical companies like GW Pharma and Novartis. Deal isn’t running for election again so there is no political fallout for him to support the sick people of Georgia desperately in need. Deal’s only possible motive against in-state growing is $$$ and is looking at his retirement years. Maybe a nice seat on the board of GW Pharma for example. This is not about politics as many have suggested. I believe it is about Deal’s retirement and promises he made to donators to win his re-election. Those are the only promises he wants to keep not the ones he made to voters.
Allen Peake is a Republican house member from Macon that has been leading the effort to bring medical cannabis to people like Haleigh Cox that suffer from epileptic seizures. He has been the face of medical cannabis in Georgia. He nearly passed a bill last year but it was killed by political brinkmanship at the last minute. Even last year Nathan Deal also could have taken steps to get it passed but chose to do nothing. That should have been a sign of things to come from Deal.
After it failed last year there were numerous studies, panels, talks as Allen Peake traveled the state to educate and build support for his new version known simply as HB1. Peake campaigned tirelessly to build support but had he simply looked at the polls with 84% of Georgians behind medical cannabis I think he needed to focus on the politicians and not the people. The people are already far ahead of the politicians and have been for a while.
HB1 was actually already a very neutered down and highly restrictive medical cannabis bill in comparison with most other states. It only approved a cannabis oil that would help very few types of illnesses and was mostly tailored for epileptic seizure patients. But at least it was a baby step in the right direction.
The oil is harvested from the marijuana plant but does not create the high that recreational use of marijuana produces because it contains no THC. Many studies have shown that THC is actually an essential part for people with no appetites or for pain relief so this oil would do nothing for them. The oil is also not covered under insurance so it is rather cost prohibitive for most. Certainly far more expensive than the ability to grow your own plant and make your own oil or allow companies here in Georgia to grow it as in other states.
This bill was about as close to the current law that make it completely illegal as you can get. But apparently Deal’s billionaire casino buddy Sheldon Adelson from Las Vegas and his donators from pharmaceutical companies counting on big revenue from their medication called Epidolex thought it was still not onerous or restrictive enough. So they asked Deal to remove the provision that would allow in-state growing of the cannabis plants. That effectively killed HB1.
Governor Deal is asking sick families who are already struggling financially and emotionally to go to other states and break laws to become drug mules and smugglers. But there is another option that I hope Allen Peake and others will consider.
Call Nathan Deal’s Bluff on the Veto!
A very recent poll that showed 84 percent of Georgians support medical cannabis. If Allen Peake and others stood up and insisted on no changes to HB1 I do not think Nathan Deal would use his veto. And if he did there should be enough support to easily override it.
He is counting on party loyalty and the fact that as a Republican Governor his colleagues in the House and Senate would not dare challenge his will. He has very good reason to believe that since they never have challenged him before. It is time to put people above party and let Nathan Deal know he is wrong.
Polls show the will of the people are behind this bill. You would also have the support of the Democrat members to override a veto if he had the cojones to try and use it. But I seriously doubt he would dare expend all his political capital in a fight against sick children. Nathan Deal is gambling that Allen Peake will simply fold and let him keep Sheldon and GW Pharma happy. Call his bluff!
Personally I think the Senate version of medical cannabis bills SB6 and SB7 are far better bills since they allow access to many more people and would also result in far cheaper costs to the patients. The oil from HB1 could potentially cost between $800 to over $2,000 a month according to some reports I read. Charlotte’s Web oil for example cost $250 per bottle. An unnecessary clinical trial is already estimated to cost around $8 million. Many families will not be able to afford that.
Please also make sure to call and leave a message for Nathan Deal at his office 404-656-1776. Let him know what you think about having a Governor more interested in keeping GW Pharma and Sheldon Adelson happy than the sick people in Georgia.
Below is a post on Allen Peake’s Facebook wall where he says he would risk going to jail to help the sick children. The comments are universally anti-Nathan Deal. Some are also anti-Allen Peake because they think he sold out. Allen Peake’s heart is in the right place but he needs to know he will have the support of the people of Georgia if he stands up to Nathan Deal so let him know he would.
If Peake led the charge to push ahead with HB1 Nathan Deal would have extremely limited support for his veto. Would he risk becoming a lame duck Governor in the very first year of his re-election by alienating the entire state? I don’t think so.
Deal is a savvy gambler and he will shift where the wind blows. Call his bluff Mr. Peake!