The Macon Republican who broke the taboo on the medical cannabis debate in the Georgia Legislature says that after 12 years, he won’t run again for the House. But he’s not giving up on distributing liquid medical cannabis or trying to bring it into the light of legality.
State Rep. Allen Peake said that he’s enjoyed being a legislator, but he’s not sure he’s always been a good politician and he never meant to make a career of politics.
In 2014, the restaurateur, legislator and former CPA better known for tax policy and pushing to merge Macon's and Bibb County’s governments met 4-year old Haleigh Cox. Prescriptions had failed to ease the severe seizures that racked her body sometimes dozens of times a day. In an Atlanta hospital room, her parents explained to their lawmaker why they wanted their daughter to be able to try a liquid made from cannabis that’s used in some other states.
That visit made Peake the Legislature's evangelist for medical cannabis.
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Not everyone under the GOP-dominated Gold Dome buys his message. But as a Republican with some standing who did and still does oppose recreational weed, he got the issue of medical cannabis on the agenda. He authored bills that set up, then expanded, the state’s medical cannabis registry.
“Being involved in legislation that really changed the quality of life for hundreds of Georgians, I mean, what could be better than that?” said Peake, reflecting on his career.
But he's not been able to pass a bill to allow a few regulated growers to cultivate and manufacture liquid medical cannabis here, so that Georgians have practical access to it.
State laws that condone marijuana are in conflict with the federal ban on it. And some folks see a short bridge from medical cultivation to availability of Colorado-style recreational weed. Republican Gov. Nathan Deal has said he won’t support medical cultivation; neither do some key state senators.
So in the meantime, he's become a node in a makeshift medical marijuana distribution network He's long said that liquid medical cannabis appears at his door and he has no further details — transporting it from medical marijuana states is illegal. Cardholders attest that they get the liquid from him.
“I fully plan to stay engaged in the medical cannabis effort, from a standpoint of providing medicine to families. That is a commitment we have made and we’ll keep doing it until we either run out of money or get arrested,” he said.
Besides the medical cannabis advocacy and distribution, Peake said that out of office, he intends to work more on a family foundation which is going to focus on helping families of children who have special needs.