You might have said it was Allen Peake day at the Gold Dome. Sure, the House honored the National Guard and celebrated Korean American Day. But for Rep. Peake, it was time to file House Bill 1, the 2015 version of Peake’s medical marijuana bill.
The morning started with Rep. Peake in the House anteroom, corralling other representatives to co-sign his bill. After the House convened, he took to the well to announce he would drop the bill later in the day, and then he prowled the floor asking for and getting the signatures of almost 100 co-sponsors, including Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones, Appropriations Chair Terry England and Rules Chair John Meadows.
At an early afternoon ceremony, Peake invited many families who will benefit from the bill’s passage to join him in the House chamber to deliver the bill to the House clerk. He handed the bill to a young child, whose father held her in his arms as he walked to the clerk’s desk to drop the bill.
At a press conference, Peake explained that he hoped the bill would be assigned to a committee on Tuesday, and that hearings would be held next week. Peake is pushing for quick passage in both chambers, and wants it on Governor Deal’s desk within a month. Noting that there are at least seventeen families who are medical refugees right now who could get relief as soon as the bill was signed into law, Peake said, “This is a big step.”
Some of the bill’s supporters were disappointed earlier in the month, when a plan to allow the manufacture of the low-THC oil in Georgia was scuttled, following a meeting between Peake and Governor Deal. This version of the bill will provide immunity to anyone possessing cannabidiol oil in the Peach State. The challenge, of course, is getting the oil from a state where it is permitted, like Colorado, back to Georgia. Peake has four options in mind that could get the oil to Georgia.
One option would be to get a manufacturer of oil with a very low THC content to ship it to Georgia. This might not be the most effective strain of the drug, but it would be better than nothing, and the manufacturer is awaiting approval of the immunity language in order to begin shipping it to here. Another option would be to get a manufacturer in a neighboring state to make the type of oil used in Colorado. Presumably with the oil legal in Georgia and the neighboring state, the only risk would occur when crossing state lines. A third option would be to have Governor Deal to pursue an exemption from the U.S. Department of Justice to exempt Georgia from the federal law banning marijuana.
The fourth option calls for civil disobedience, where Peake himself would travel to Colorado and bring the oil back himself. He stressed that he didn’t want the families of sick children breaking the law, though.
In the end, Peake admitted, the best solution would be for the U.S. Congress to take medical marijuana off its present Schedule 1 classification, a classification which says it has no medical purpose. And indeed, a bill to legalize a Charlotte’s web strain at the federal level has been introduced.
For Peake, maybe the second best thing would be to get his bill on the Governor’s desk. Despite a standoff with the Senate late last session that prevented the bill’s passage, Peake is optimistic. Based on the Senate Majority Caucus press conference earlier in the day, he may very well be justified in his optimism.