New Peake tack is licensed dispensaries for medical cannabis

mlee@macon.comMarch 6, 2014 

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State Rep. Allen Peake, who sponsors HB 885 that would approve the use of a specific type of cannabis to treat medical conditions, holds a vial of what the liquid medicine looks like.

BRANT SANDERLIN — ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

ATLANTA -- The federal barriers between Georgians and an epilepsy medicine made from cannabis are so insurmountable that the Macon representative who is championing the cause plans to propose licensing nonprofit dispensaries in Georgia.

“I’m going to provide that as an option to include in our next draft of the bill,” said state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, if a Senate committee hears his House Bill 885 by a key legislative deadline Wednesday.

Peake won nearly universal House support for his original bill, which said that Georgia’s medical research universities could grow a type of cannabis that’s high in cannabidiol, or CBD, and make liquid epilepsy medicine from it. Such CBD-rich liquids are nonhallucinogenic and are already used in Britain and Colorado to treat children who have intractable, severe epilepsy disorders.

But he and other bill supporters admitted that they do not have a clear path for getting Georgians something the federal government says is forbidden.

Growing an illegal substance could jeopardize universities’ federal funding, so they are not likely to take that chance. Colorado cannot export any marijuana products. The British medicine is available only in very small U.S. trials. And though the federal government cultivates some research cannabis, it’s not a high-CBD variety.

It’s all those dead ends, Peake said, that drove him to the nonprofit dispensary model used in other medical marijuana states.

He emphasized that his dispensary idea speaks only to a licensed, nonprofit entity growing CBD-rich cannabis and synthesizing liquid medicine. Any patients would still face the same controls in his original bill: approval through a research university and supervision by a doctor.

“It would have to be a (nonprofit) business whose sole purpose is to provide relief for children and citizens who need cannabidiol oil,” he said.

“I think it’s probably worth having some discussion at the hearing.”

He needs approval from the Senate Health and Human Services Committee by Wednesday in order to try for full legislative passage by March 20, the last scheduled working day of the year.

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