Midstate opinions of Peake’s proposal

February 15, 2014 

Midstate opinions of Peake’s proposal

Susan Banks, 47, of Warner Robins, president of the Epilepsy Association of Georgia:

“I’m 100 percent behind it. I have heard through the years that it does help calm them.”

Howard Sills, 58, Putnam County’s sheriff for 17 years and a law enforcement veteran of nearly 40:

“I sent Allen (Peake) an email saying that I supported the bill, and the (Georgia) Sheriffs Association voted to support the bill. ... I’m certainly in favor of it. ... The problem with this bill is that they’re using the term ‘marijuana.’ ... Nobody’s explaining it properly. It’s not medical marijuana. That’s an improper term.”

Sills said he saw little difference in what Peake is proposing than a doctor who prescribes morphine -- an opium derivative -- for severe pain or a prescription for a cough syrup that contains codeine, which also comes from poppies.

David Gushee, professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University:

“I believe that Christians and other people of faith should take seriously the counsel of medical experts on the question of whether cannabis (marijuana) should be added to the tools available to medical professionals to deal with chronic pain and other medical conditions,” Gushee said in an email to The Telegraph. “Show us the evidence and let us look at it.”

Still, Gushee remains opposed to the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. He is concerned that legalization for medical uses would be a step in that direction or would make it easier for people who are not sick to obtain the drug.

“For this reason, I would place legalization of medical marijuana in the ‘morally dubious’ category and would want to see strong evidence that available medical tools are not adequate for dealing with the medical problems that are supposedly indicating the need for medical marijuana.”

Jerry Lumley, 56, of Jerry A. Lumley LLC in Bibb County, an attorney for 32 years.

Lumley said that after he saw a picture of the child who prompted Peake’s interest, “if there is anything out there that can help that child, whether it’s marijuana or anything else, I’m in favor of that child getting the help that she needs. So, I think what Allen Peake is doing is admirable. I really do. ... I have the utmost respect for what he’s doing.”

Ronald Powell, 59, of Macon, pastoral and family counselor.

“Our Georgia state elected officials are being moved by sympathy and their rush to approve the use of medical marijuana before the research is in may have negative, long-term effects on those who look to marijuana as a curative rather than a drug for pain management. There are many medications with far less damaging effects on the market for pain management.”

Scotty Shepherd, 65, Macon-Bibb County commissioner; chairman of the commission’s Public Safety Committee; retired law enforcement officer.

“I’ve seen it work in a personal friend of mine that was dying with cancer, and he used medical marijuana to help control pain, and it made his end of life that much better. ... I think with the doctors overseeing the use of these different chemicals, I don’t see anything wrong with it at all. We treat dogs and cats better than human beings, even a small, defenseless little girl. ... I would put it in my car and carry it to her if it was something I could do to help her.”

Shannon Harvey, 50, of Forsyth, CEO, River Edge Behavioral Health Center and former drug counselor

“I haven’t walked in the shoes of parents with children suffering from cancer. If I was a parent, I would be very worried about certain chemotherapies, but when the situation is dire, you are willing to take risks. That’s what trying medical marijuana would be -- a risk.”

Leanna Templeton, 24, of Byron, a student who works at a tanning salon in Macon:

“It’s so hard for me to answer that because I don’t know the effects of that. I don’t know how it makes people feel. ... I feel like if it can help people that it would be a good thing, but it’s hard for me to know because I don’t know how that works.”

Gene Saunders, 55, of Bibb County, a Middle Georgia hospice chaplain

“I do favor using the extract for medical purposes because I think that is the ethical thing to do, seeing that we use much harder drugs to treat other symptoms. It’s simply a matter of symptom management, and this drug cannot even get you high. I don’t see any ethical dilemma in this at all.”

Saunders added that he finds “absurd” the idea that the use of marijuana extracts for medical purposes would be a gateway for future marijuana use in Georgia.

“We prescribe heavy narcotics to our patients for symptom management on a daily basis, but that does in no way imply that we want to see dime bags of heroine sold on the street simply because we’re using a synthesized form of the same drug in a controlled manner. That’s why it’s called a controlled substance. We’re controlling it.”

Saunders attended a news conference in Atlanta last week involving lawmakers and families who favor the use of the drug for limited medical purposes. He was there on the behalf of friends who have a young teenager who would benefit from the proposed treatment because he suffers from seizures.

Mattias Palm, 21, of Sweden, a music major at Mercer University:

“Everything I’ve seen or read about it seems like it can really benefit certain people and help where other medication might not. ... I think other drugs are being used to help certain things, like morphine maybe, that you probably wouldn’t be able to buy yourself. And if it helps people that are sick to live a better life ... I think it should be legal.”

-- Compiled by staff writers Wayne Crenshaw, Linda S. Morris, Andres David Lopez, Becky Purser, Joe Kovac Jr., Jenna Mink and Oby Brown.

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