Georgia State Representative Allen Peake (R-Macon) has spent the last year trying very hard to brand himself the “medical marijuana politician”, vowing to fight until Georgia’s most vulnerable patients, children with seizure disorders, are able to gain unfettered access to CBD-rich cannabis oil. In fact, so dedicated to this issue is Mr. Peake that he established a nonprofit organization in order to cover relocation expenses for Georgia families who needed to move to Colorado to treat their children last year after his CBD bill failed at the last hour in the Senate.
House Bill 885, dubbed the Haleigh’s Hope Act, was to be a watered-down medical marijuana law that would have allowed hospitals within Georgia’s university system to conduct research trials and develop treatment regimens for seizure patients. Haleigh’s Hope act would have benefited a handful of Georgia citizens, yet long-time marijuana activists stood behind Peake, seeing his legislation as a very small yet important step in beginning a meaningful conversation on cannabis law reform.
HB885 was wrecked by last-minute deal making, and since that time several sick Georgia children have died without the treatment the bill could have provided. So medical marijuana patients were once again excited this past November when Rep. Peake pre-filed legislation that he promised would be better than 885, which would expand the number of covered conditions, remove the research requirement and allow for in-state commercial cultivation of cannabis with high CBD content. This bill, while far from perfect (no home cultivation, very low THC content, etc), was an even BETTER first step than Haleigh’s would have been. Peake said he was going to bring the cannabis refugees home from Colorado and spent the better part of December stumping for the new bill based on that one, single promise.
But then, politics
Just before the 2015 legislative session began Peake was summoned to the Governor’s office, where he was told that he would be dropping the idea of cultivation and instead focus on decriminalization. In other words, Governor Deal told Peake he would support the idea of not arresting parents who happen to have magically acquired cannabis oil, but under no circumstances would the devil’s weed be grown in Georgia. Even though his bill would have likely had overwhelming support in both the House and the Senate, it would have presented Deal with quite a political hot potato since vetoing the bill in order to continue licking the boots of GW Pharmaceuticals would have resulted in an angry backlash from parents of sick children who are already sick of being used as political collateral.
So as gentlemen-politicians do, Peake and Deal agreed on the order in which each would be able to begin profiting from marijuana in Georgia. Despite the fact that Nathan Deal has somehow managed to dodge multiple threatened indictments and FBI investigations as a result of his corruption he is still the governor so he gets to go first. This is pretty clear based on the speed with which Peake cleaned himself up after his meeting with the Governor and then headed for the closest camera to sell the new idea.
I’d go to jail for you darlin’
Not surprisingly Georgia medical marijuana supporters are bewildered and angry. After promising them that he was bringing them home, Peake managed to alienate a large portion of his fan base by acquiescing so quickly to Deal’s demands. “I don’t think it’s right having us go to another state just to get the oil and risk prosecution just to bring it back to kids who need it the most. I don’t think it’s right,” Andrew Bechtol told Atlanta’s NBC affiliate. Bechtol says his 11-year-old son’s health could improve tremendously if only he had access to medical marijuana.
Again, given how quickly Peake gave up on his own bill, his response to the backlash was pretty surprising. “Maybe it’s time for a little civil disobedience” Peake said. “I’m ready and willing to risk going to jail to be able to go get the product, and bring it back to Georgia so that these families can have access to it.”
Despite the fact that smuggling marijuana and marijuana products across state lines is a crime, therefore making it an act of CRIMINAL rather than civil disobedience, there is little question that Representative Peake is telling the truth. I have no doubt that he would get on an airplane tomorrow and bring cannabis oil back by the quart to alleviate the suffering of sick children in Georgia.
But what bewilders me (and a lot of other people) is why he would be willing to go to jail but not have the balls to stand up to the bullying and politics-for-profit that Governor Deal insists on continuing to play? How can one be willing to face jail and the loss of their life’s work in order to avoid standing up to a disgusting, corrupt bully like Nathan Deal?
Shame on Allen Peake, Nathan Deal and every other Georgia politician that continues to allow sick people to suffer while they play politics.