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.