Peake named co-chairman of medical cannabis study panel

mlee@macon.comJune 18, 2014 

ATLANTA -- State Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, will be co-chairman of an official study committee that over the next six months plans to come up with a comprehensive medical cannabis proposal that has a good chance of getting legislative approval next year.

Peake’s appointment came from the office of House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge.

A total 22 states already have comprehensive medical cannabis programs, said Peake, so “let’s learn from what they’re doing so we can hit the ground running.”

He envisions holding three to five hearings across the state and inviting testimony from law enforcement, the medical community, sufferers from various diseases and Georgians who have gone to Colorado to seek medical cannabis.

Peake said he has been told that state Sen. Renee Unterman from Buford, a fellow Republican and chairwoman of the Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee, will work with Peake on leading the 10-member study committee.

Peake sponsored a popular bill last year, House Bill 885, that would have allowed Georgians to possess a non-hallucinogenic cannabis oil that’s used to treat severe pediatric seizures.

“I think it’s worth looking to see if other diagnoses can benefit,” Peake said. He’s also looking favorably at programs like Minnesota’s, which allow cannabis compounds to be given as a pill, liquid or via vaping, but not by smoking.

Marijuana and its derivatives remain illegal under federal law, so states that do allow it are relying on the feds closing one eye. States that allow it also are under orders not to export to other states, and that’s been a complex problem.

“A lot of the hurdles the other states have found is ‘How do we get it here?’” Peake said. “The simple answer is this: We need to grow it here.”

The first meeting of the Joint Study Committee on the Prescription of Medical Cannabis for Serious Medical Conditions has yet to be scheduled. Six other lawmakers are on the committee plus one representative from the Medical Association of Georgia and one from the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia. Ralston’s other appointees are state Reps. Rick Golick, R-Smyrna; Micah Gravley, R-Douglasville; and Margaret Kaiser, D-Atlanta. The lieutenant governor’s office has yet to announce its appointees.

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