Peake will lead new medical cannabis panel

Gov. Nathan Deal appointed Friday 11 members of a new group that will recommend what kind of medical marijuana use Georgia should permit.

State Rep. Allen Peake of Macon was named chairman of the commission, and he is the only Middle Georgia resident on the panel. The group also includes representatives from law enforcement as well as medical fields.

The Georgia Commission on Medical Cannabis was created by a law passed during the most recent session of the Georgia Legislature. The measure allows people with certain medical conditions to have cannabis oil within the state as long as they have a doctor’s permission. Peake sponsored the legislation.

Peake said the panel he’s leading is different than a traditional study committee, since it has a specific mandate: What’s the best infrastructure or delivery system model for medical cannabis in Georgia?

The law that authorized the legal possession of cannabis oil in Georgia “was a very good first step, but we still have an access problem,” Peake said Friday afternoon.

Given the “wide field of talent” on the commission, he said, “I’m looking forward to lots of valuable input.”

For now, 34 states have some kind of provision for medical cannabis, and “there’s a wide variety of infrastructure” out there, the lawmaker said.

The Georgia commission will look at “what’s been done and what’s been successful” in other states.

It’s crucial, he said, that Georgia have a “safe product ... that’s very well regulated.”

He added, “I think we can learn from other states’ successes and failures.”

The panel will probably meet for the first time within 60 days. It must submit a report by the end of the year.

Some proponents have pushed for measures that would permit the growth of marijuana in Georgia, contending that the legislation passed earlier this year doesn’t protect people while transporting cannabis oil from other states where it can be produced and sold.

Here are the governor’s appointments to the commission:

House appointees: Katy Dempsey, Allen Peake

Senate appointees: Renee Unterman, Butch Miller

Attorney: Brian Rickman

Hematologist/Oncologist: Dr. Cynthia Wetmore

Neurologist: Dr. Yong Park

Gastroenterologist: Dr. Mark Murphy

Pharmacist: Sara “Mandy” Reece

Police Chief: Stacey Cotton, Covington

Sheriff: Gary Gulledge, Paulding County

Here are the other commission members:

Commissioner of Public Health: Brenda Fitzgerald

Director of the GBI: Vernon Keenan

Director of Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency: Rick Allen

Commissioner of Agriculture: Gary Black

Chairman of Georgia Medical Composite Board: Dr. David Retterbush

Governor’s Executive Counsel: Ryan Teague

The full bill and charge to the commission can be found at: http://1.usa.gov/1Hljffo