HB 1 Past Its High Point?

HB 1 01.13.15
Yesterday’s press conference at the Capitol on the updated legislation — Photo Credit: Jon Richards

Everyone said that as long as I voted for him in November, I could complain. So, day 3 of the legislative session, and here we are.

The medical cannabis oil legislation is being stripped at the direction of the Governor’s office and people, including myself, are mad as hell. As someone who didn’t support the bill last year and took some serious convincing to support the legislation in its form originally prepared for this year, I find it painfully disheartening that a year long campaign to honestly educate the public and garner support is being derailed by special interest groups and money.

HB 1, or Haleigh’s Hope Act, has been watered down so as not to include in-state cultivation, which, in essence, turns what was a ‘step in the right direction’ to a ‘feel good, do nothing’ piece of legislation. Governor Deal has said that Georgia is not ready to grow medical marijuana but that he would offer families immunity if they brought cannabis oil here – a move that essentially halts any opportunity for families living elsewhere to return home to Georgia considering they would be violating the interstate commerce clause and a plethora of other laws. Not to mention that they can’t fly with it and families who receive oil in Colorado sign a document saying they will not leave Colorado with the oil, so Governor Deal’s offer isn’t practical or anything that can be enacted. Of the 17 families working with Rep. Peake over the last year, only one said they have the possibility of returning to Georgia if Governor Deal’s version of the legislation passes.

Some have speculated that Deal’s office is stalling the legislation in an effort to give Georgia pharmaceutical companies a jump start on preparing the process to cultivate their own cannabis and then control the industry here, but even so, it doesn’t change the fact that these families are being denied access now.

A piece of legislation that has the blanket support across demographics, partisanship and even some law enforcement agencies should not fall victim to the politics of a Governor with nothing to gain and nothing to lose. It’s a legislative concern and he can bring it all together without regret. Rep. Allen Peake, who has become emotionally invested in the issue, suggested to WSB that perhaps ‘civil disobedience’ is the answer, noting that he was personally willing to go to jail. At this point, Rep. Peake has two options: He can push HB 1, assuming it will pass in the House and Senate, and force the Governor to veto the bill; or, he can cross the families who have exploited themselves for the last 16 months for the sake of their children and equal access to effective medical treatment.

41 comments

  1. Ed says:

    “I find it painfully disheartening that a year long campaign to honestly educate the public and garner support is being derailed by special interest groups and money.”

    So… the legislature is still functioning as it always has?

  2. Raleigh says:

    Didn’t Albert Einstein say that the definition of insanity was electing the same people over and over again and expecting different results……

    Oh sorry that was DOING the same thing over and over…… My bad.

  3. SmyrnaSAHM says:

    Deal’s actions on this issue are disgusting, but not surprising. It’s dismaying that the Real Deal (whatevs) can’t man up – and what better time to man up than this term? – and just do what’s right.

    • MattMD says:

      The fact that such an uninspiring man like Deal could even get elected state wide pretty much says it all about that state of Georgia politics.

    • SmyrnaSAHM says:

      Rereading this, it’s clear that my tone came off more glib and flippant than I intended. If Deal wants to get things done, now is the time – he doesn’t need to pander to any constituencies, and he doesn’t need to toe nearly as many lines than he’d have to were he still a candidate. He’s in that golden situation where he gets to be a leader, without also being a candidate. If he truly believes that pushing this bill is the right course, there’s nothing stopping him.

      …unless, alternatively, the situation is more like this. (I am SO SAD I couldn’t find a video clip.)

  4. Posner says:

    “halts any opportunity for families living elsewhere to return home to Georgia considering they would be violating the interstate commerce clause and a plethora of other laws”

    Huh?

    The interstate commerce clause gives Congress the authority to regulate commerce “. . . among the several States . . .” Has zero bearing on individual conduct–one can’t “violate” the interstate commerce clause.

    Now, an individual may be violating a federal law regulating commerce among the several states (check out 21 U.S.C. 841), but that’s a different story. They aren’t violating the Constitution by bringing pot into Georgia.

  5. xdog says:

    My main objection to the bill is that it aims to provide a treatment that doesn’t appear to have any efficacy beyond the placebo effect. Any idea how many families in the state would take advantage if the bill passed? It might be cheaper to regularly fly them to Colorado than to pass the bill as is.

    • aaron says:

      Even the harshest doubters agree that there’s a significant benefit. In a recent observational study in Colorado, some neurologists concluded 1/3 of the 58 patients they looked at had over 50% seizure reduction. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141014112710.htm

      Keep in mind, the study group for this was kids in the hospital, likely much more severe cases than kids that don’t need to go to the hospital. There are numerous kids whose seizures are 90-100% reduced. If it can help 1 kid, give GA the option. Let parents and their doctors decide what treatment is best for the child. Cannabis is safer than seizures and it’s safer than the FDA pharmaceutical seizure drugs that get our kids high as a kite and cause lots of side effects.

      Regarding the idea of parents moving or for single parents, carting your disabled child around the country to pick up oil, I’d like you to read part of this. You can skip to the word “hell”. https://www.facebook.com/moveslikejagger14/posts/748619258534032:0

      I can assure you all the parents involved on this issue are thoughtfully considering the implications of this oil and our ability to treat our children with it. My son can’t tell me if the oil is working, but I can see with my eyes he’s having much less severe seizures. And other people that work with him all the time, such as his teachers, report the same. I do wish it was as simple to just fly to Colorado regularly, but for people that are working and caregiving for special needs kids, unfortunately it’s just not that simple. Not to mention we’d be breaking federal and state law.

      Give us that option, though. The parent should be given all the responsibility for this; we don’t need the strong arm of government telling us what to decide or limiting our options.

      Thanks for your feedback and comments!

      • xdog says:

        aaron, I’m truly sorry for your son’s afflictions. It must be hell for him and his family to endure. I wish there was treatment that would cure him and I fully understand your efforts to seek out anything that would help him. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that CBD oil is that cure.

        You say you can see improvement but you’re looking through a parent’s eyes. However doctors in Colorado treating children with epileptic seizures have found no differences in kids’ brain-wave activity before and after CBD doses. They have also observed that families who move to Colorado for treatment are three times more likely to report improvement than families who already live in the state.

        I can’t tell you what to do but I don’t believe there is anything beyond anecdotal evidence that CBD oil works. To my knowledge there is nothing at all to indicate a proper dosage level or treatment frequency.

        A couple of weeks ago I posted a link about similar efforts at legalization in Illinois. I read today that no licenses for growing or dispensing any form of medical marijuana have been issued.
        http://www.ajc.com/ap/ap/top-news/illinois-extends-marijuana-experiment-to-children/njfRY/
        http://chicago.suntimes.com/politics/7/71/287987/lang-says-quinn-might-doomed-medical-marijuana

        Good luck to you and your family.

        • androidguybill says:

          @xdog:

          You are aware that plenty of controlled, dangerous etc. substances (including actual poisons) that would be illegal to use or have otherwise are routinely used as or in medicines, including those that can only be legally administered by medical personnel. The only difference between those and marijuana is the stigma applied to the latter. Of course some of it is legitimate: the fear that medical marijuana is a Trojan horse for full-scale legalization down the line. ‘Tis true that drug legalization advocates do desire this and this is part of their strategy, and “for medical purposes” was initially done in places where THC is now legal. Still, there are plenty of things “worse” than THC that is used for and in medical drugs routinely.

          • xdog says:

            “You are aware that plenty of controlled, dangerous etc. substances (including actual poisons) that would be illegal to use or have otherwise are routinely used as or in medicines, including those that can only be legally administered by medical personnel.”

            Yes, after thorough testing that demonstrates the efficacy of the substances. We don’t routinely allow anything to be prescribed without evidence that it will work. Why do you want to change that approach?

            “OK, so what’s the downside? Even if it only a placebo, it’s like making aspirin legal.”

            The downside is wasting time and money that could be better spent in finding a legitimate treatment. Getting desperate parents’ hopes up for no reason. Taking the easy way out. Putting childhood seizure treatment on the same level as naturopathy or magical weight loss treatments.

            • MattMD says:

              “We don’t routinely allow anything to be prescribed without evidence that it will work. Why do you want to change that approach?”

              This is entirely untrue. There is such a thing called off-label prescribing, Google it.

            • Raleigh says:

              I’m curious why anyone would want to limit a parent’s right to seek treatment for their child. Apparently their traditional doctors have exhausted anything they have. You can cite all the negative “studies” you want and I’m sure there are an equal number of positive ones.

              All medicine is in one form or another poison and just because it is “FDA” approved doesn’t necessarily mean it will work or is safe. You can google the class action lawsuits on just statins alone. Every one of those had FDA approval. Maybe we should look at as you say “changing the approach”.

              However if I was a parent of a child where I had spent thousands upon thousands on finding a “legitimate treatment” to no avail and you told me face to face I was taking the easy way out by wanting to try this treatment. Let me just say you would not like my reaction.

              The Governor is completely wrong on this. All he is doing is potentially creating criminals out of caring parents.

        • benevolus says:

          OK, so what’s the downside? Even if it only a placebo, it’s like making aspirin legal. What’s the harm?

        • aaron says:

          “you’re looking through a parent’s eyes.” A clock timing my son’s seizures doesn’t lie and it proves that his seizures are less duration. I can assure you that this isn’t some snake oil and I didn’t leave my home and remove my kids from seeing their grandparents and cousins for a placebo. If that were the case, I’d be back in GA and not spending hours a week worrying about medical cannabis to help GA kids.

          It’s easy to believe the lawmakers and doctors that want to squash this due to “lack of research” but that’s a circular argument. “We don’t have enough research”, yet the Federal government puts so many roadblocks that most researchers don’t want to mess with it. Recently in Arizona, a researcher spent 2 years trying to get approval for a PTSD study, and at the last minute the state cut her job, despite glowing performance reviews. No one wants to deal with that.

          Anecdotal evidence of hundreds of children should be good enough for Georgia to act since the Federal government refuses to. Lets do the research, but don’t let kids die while we wait for a study. This plant has been studied at least since the 1940’s with benefit towards seizures and likely long before that. There is data to support cannabidiol helping seizures. Here are just some of the studies: http://georgiashope.com/research-2/

          Regarding dosage and frequency, there is some data on that, but as with any epilepsy medication, there’s no “one size fits all” dosing. My son’s neurologists have always been guessing with FDA approved meds and even off-label or meds not approved or tested for children. Epilepsy is a complex, rare syndrome, meaning many different presentations of the disease. It’s easy to say “we don’t know how to dose this so lets stop giving it”. Well if that’s the case, there would be no seizure medications given to humans, because it’s really just a guessing game with all seizure meds, unfortunately.

          We don’t need to wait for science to tell us WHY it works. We know it works. 3 Georgia kids with seizures died in 2014 that were working with us to pass HB885. We. Cannot. Move. Fast. Enough.

          • wowFAD says:

            Aaron, stay strong for your family and don’t bother with this “xdog” person, anymore.

            Children who haven’t developed cognitively enough to understand they’re taking medicine cannot be influenced by a placebo effect, nor can the eyes of a parent magically make a clock tell time, differently.

            This jerk was rationalizing to justify his preconceived notions — nothing more. There’s been a bit of that in the last year, but there are people here in Georgia who know better who have been doing their best to set the record straight when confronted by “xdog” types. Other folks in Georgia ARE paying attention. We ARE thinking of you and your family, and people like Mr Xdog who have been desperately clinging to their ignorance are starting to realize they were wrong.

            I know this is a small comfort, but I thought you should hear from someone besides this other joker. I doubt you’ll be hearing from him again. You put him in his place, and I know your family appreciates it.

            • xdog says:

              wowFAD, I’m sorry my concern that sick children receive non-speculative treatment has upset you. You might check out laetrile if you get a chance.

              If you don’t believe in the placebo effect, what’s your explanation for the fact that families moving to Colorado for CBD oil treatment are much more likely to report improvement than resident families?

              I hope you don’t have a sick kid but if you do, my best wishes to you and your family.

              • wowFAD says:

                Right — your best wishes still dodge the main concern, which is that you failed to explain how children who don’t understand what “medicine” is can experience a placebo effect, or why parents would delude themselves into falsifying the records of how often kids are seizing — because that’s the only explanation that jives with your assertions.

                You started with the preconceived notion that the oil isn’t working, and you’re *still* clamoring for a rationalization.

                At this point, I just wish you don’t have children, period. My best wishes to the doctor who ties your tubes, xdog.

                • xdog says:

                  OK that’s about all your charm I can handle.

                  I wrote before, if you really believe that Colorado CBD oil is the way to go, then either drive out there and pick up a load or get someone to do it for you or keep lobbying to have the laws changed. I don’t see any other options.

                  • wowFAD says:

                    It is the way to go. God forbid you have a child who gets sick someday. Some internet troll might try getting his contrarian rocks off playing semantic tidily-winks with your child’s LIFE because he’s too dense to realize that for you, the stakes are that high.

                    As for my charm, I keep that in reserve for people I respect. First, you blindly assert kids with no understanding of medicine are subject to the placebo effect, which is completely asinine. Then you suggested a “parent’s eyes” read a clock, differently — suggesting parents are putting false information into their children’s records.

                    Be as polite as you like, buddy — it doesn’t make your bias and intellectually dishonest rationalizations any less transparent. I don’t know what your angle is, and I don’t care, but trolling parents of sick children is LOW, Mr xpuppy. Don’t be shocked if you get to the pearly gates and Saint Peter has his finger poised and ready over the “down” button.

                    • Will Durant says:

                      Internet trolls are typically identified as the ones resorting to name calling and telling others they are going to hell.

      • John Konop says:

        God bless you and your family! I cannot imagine the frustrations as a parent….. I pray every legislator, and Governor Deal reads your comment to understand what this is about!

    • wowFAD says:

      Placebo effect? How is the placebo effect supposed to act upon these kids? These kids suffer from intractable, debilitating epilepsy. That means they spend so much of their time seizing, they cannot develop cognitively. They cannot speak or even feed themselves. How can a child that doesn’t consciously understand he/she is taking medicine be under a placebo effect?

      But let’s just PRETEND a baby can be influenced by the placebo effect… If indeed the oil is a placebo effect, why didn’t it kick in with the first several medications the parents tried?

      Don’t be absurd!!! You are starting with the answer you like and working your way backwards to a rationalization because of your preconceived notions. And it’s obvious that’s the case because you didn’t *really* think that placebo thing through, did you?

  6. gcp says:

    Its time to put the entire marijuana issue to the voters as a state constitutional amendment but then again Deal would likely use his influence to try to kill such an initiative.

    • saltycracker says:

      Do we call for a people’s vote so much because our elected can only hear the voices of lobbyists and special interests not what is best for all…..to legalize, tax and control marijuana?

      • gcp says:

        I think so. We voted on T Splost, Sunday sales, gay marriage… Let the voters decide this one.

        At least six more states will have ballot initiatives in 2016 why not Ga.?

        • WeymanCWannamakerJr says:

          This bunch won’t even pass legislation for the chilldun. Do you think they’re going to let their name be associated with letting the voters decide the fate of the evil weed? Forget the tax benefits. Think of the savings in useless enforcement.

          • gcp says:

            As additional states legalize there will be pressure on the general assembly to do something. This issue ain’t going away.

  7. Rick Day says:

    Witness the governor bravely kicking the can down to 20016. Instead of doing the daring, he is looking for his next elected gig. Here are three solutions:

    “Let the People Decide” SR-6

    “Justice for all or Jail for all.” no creamy exceptions. Medical programs are a joke; a distraction to a regulated market. Peake’s efforts is like picking the cherry off the banana split and declaring it the only delicious part. No. No. NO.

    compromise – simply stop arresting adults who possess less than 2 ounces of bulk cannabis or 12 grams of processed product (tinctures, creams, oils, butters, etc). Make it a fine, but lean toward ‘warnings’ and make it totally up to the discretion of the officer.

    Pick one.

    PS: I do like Peake’s ‘civil disobedience attitude. That is what consumers have been doing for decades, only in the privacy of their private areas.

    • TheEiger says:

      “Witness the governor bravely kicking the can down to 20016. Instead of doing the daring, he is looking for his next elected gig. Here are three solutions:”

      That’s probably the funniest thing I’ve heard all day. There may be many reasons Deal is doing what he is doing, but it isn’t because he’s thinking of running for anything else. He’s done.

    • xdog says:

      “simply stop arresting adults who possess less than 2 ounces of bulk cannabis”

      I might argue with your limits but I don’t have other objections. If people want to get high and understand the penalties for driving while they are high, I’m all for it.

      “or 12 grams of processed product (tinctures, creams, oils, butters, etc)”

      That’s a different matter entirely and one I think should be considered separately.

      “I do like Peake’s ‘civil disobedience attitude.”

      If I had a sick kid, and if I truly believed his suffering could be eased by a strain of sativa sold only in Colorado, I’d drive out there and buy all I could stuff in my trunk. For that matter, I’d bet there are underground groups providing access to Charlotte’s web CBD oil for out-of-staters right now.

    • SouthCANN says:

      I agree Rick that Peake’s heart probably is in the right place, and there’s a good chance he has either already helped someone secretly or made a connection for them. But if you are going to lay down after spending a month and a half giving your halftime speech to a bunch of anxious parents then you should probably give a good reason for it, and so far he ain’t dunnit.

    • wowFAD says:

      Unfortunately, Peake’s “civil disobedience” attitude is only that — an *attitude*. It’s just a show he’s putting on, now that his wings have been clipped. He’s trying to save face.

      Ask the Hopkins family what’s required to actually acquire the cannabis extract oil in Colorado. They can explain better than anyone how/why Peake’s shiny new promises are completely empty. Not only is Peake not a patient, he’s not a CO resident. Anyone selling the oil to Peake would be violating Colorado’s law.

      The sentiment is all that “civil disobedience” crap is worth. Sentiment doesn’t help anyone except Allen Peake and Nathan Deal.

  8. weedweed says:

    This governor hates Liberty, the USA, and the US Constitution. Most likely, he is a communist or other kind of totalitarian.

  9. Baker says:

    Jessica: “As someone who didn’t support the bill last year and took some serious convincing to support the legislation in its form originally prepared for this year…” What was your problem with the bill last year?

  10. Three Jack says:

    It’s really sad that this is even necessary in a ‘free’ society. There is a need for a minimum amount of laws to keep the peace in any society. But when we have devolved into a debate about whether a natural extract cultivated from a natural plant can be used to relieve suffering in kids, we have lost the battle against intrusive government regulation.

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