My blog is dedicated to the exploration of industrial hemp in America including the rich history of all forms of cannabis, the evolving law and politics of hemp and marijuana, the many products made from cannabis and the capacity, real or imagined, of hemp to re-industrialize rural America and revitalize the American family farm.
Saturday, May 6, 2017
Hemp Oil Spread Across Georgia As Christian Politician Claims $100K Is Nothing Compared To Helping
Georgia State Representative Allen Peake distributes free medicinal cannabis oil to constituents on his own dime.
A Christian politician admitted to spending more than $100,000 to distribute free medicinal hemp oil in Georgia, the Associated Press reported last week. Georgia State Representative Allen Peake said he does it to get around conflicting to state laws on marijuana use and says the cost is nothing compared to helping suffering Georgians.
Currently, Georgia’s laws on cannabis state that cannabis oil can be used in low dosages for certain patients. Conditions include those suffering from Alzheimer’s, autism, HIV/AIDS, intractable pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, cancer, Parkinson disease, and epilepsy. Patients are allowed to have up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil and must register with the Georgia medical marijuana registry, which has over 300 doctors supervising the use of the drug. The law was passed in 2015, and over 1,300 patients have qualified for the program. Authorities say that most use the oil to treat seizures or cancer.
But, here’s the catch—the law also stipulates that while patients can have the drug, they can’t grow, import, or purchase it. So, how do these patients get it? They legally can’t. That’s where Peake comes in. He authored the bill that allowed its use and is still working on changing the laws regarding its acquisition. In the meantime, he’s taken matters upon himself to help those in pain.
According to the Associated Press, Peake brings in the oil from out-of-state, although he says he doesn’t know its exact origins. Then, he gets around the law through a barely-legal process. The boxes arrives and then Peake makes a “significant donation,” to a medical marijuana research firm in Colorado. Buying the oil outright would be illegal, but receiving free oil and then making a donation allegedly releases him from liability.
Then, he and his wife give the oil free of charge to patients across Georgia. If they took payment for it then it would be a felony offense. He said he and his wife spend about $100,000 annually on cannabis oil and eat the cost. “I’ll never recover that money, but the satisfaction of helping people makes it all worthwhile,” he told the Associated Press.
Really, Peake doesn’t care about the money. He believes it is a person’s fundamental human right to medicate themselves. Peake makes sure his recipients are on the registered list and even went so far as to get a medical marijuana license himself. He also said that more than 20 state lawmakers have referred patients to him. Some such lawmakers were in opposition to the bill on the floor but changed their tune once a loved got sick.
Peake’s expansion legislation was proposed in January of this year. It will go to statewide vote in January of 2018. He’s skipping sending it to the floor because he doesn’t think it will pass. He wants a clear voice on what the people want.
“It’s clear we’re going to have a hard time passing a cultivation bill (in the state Legislature) for the next two years. So why not put it in front of the voters, where every poll shows there’s clear evidence that voters support this?” Peake said.
The bill would broadly allow for medical marijuana cultivation and distribution for medical purposes. Although the specifics, such as who will grow it and where and how it would be regulated, would all be addressed in separate legislation.
Peake has about a dozen signatures of senators and representatives behind him on the bill but he still faces opposition. Some fear that medicinal approval is just a step away from legalizing recreational use. So far, many states have medical marijuana laws and eight states have laws allowing recreational use in small dosages for adults.
But Georgia lawmakers fear for the day when they will become one of them. Further, law enforcement officials hate the idea of legalized cannabis. They think it will just make their job more difficult sifting through who is authorized for what, and in what amount.
The benefits of marijuana for medicinal use are largely debated, mainly because of the social stigma related to its recreational use.
Currently, the approved cannabis oil is very low in THC so it’s difficult to get high. Therefore it is not appealing to recreational users. But law enforcement officials don’t buy that and say drug users will find ways. Not to mention, laws would have be set for driving under the influence among other things. When the bill was signed into law in 2015, Governor Nathan Deal wasn’t happy with it, thinking the state had just opened a whole new can of worms that would be impossible to control. Now that Peake wants to expand the cannabis laws, the backlash could be even worse. Not to mention that the research on the effects of medical marijuana is still regarded as inconclusive and largely anecdotal.
Amanda Reiman, manager of Marijuana Law and Policy at the Drug Policy Alliance, told The Telegraph in Macon, Georgia, “We do recognize that science has shown that the constituents of the plant have a very high medical potential.So we support the access to medical cannabis for people who need it, and especially as an alternative to some of the pharmaceutical drugs such as opioids that people are being overprescribed, that we’re seeing a lot more.”
How to expand legislation that allows the industry to stay under control is a difficult topic to take on. Allen Peake, however, is taking the vigilante route.