In an attempt to repair some of the damage done by Rep. Allen Peake's (R-Macon) decision to back down on his promise to bring Georgia medical marijuana refugees home, the Macon Telegraph on Sunday published an editorial lambasting the thousands of patients and activists in Georgia that are pushing back against the "compromise" struck between Peake and Governor Nathan Deal.
In a piece that could have just as easily have been written by one of Peake's staff members, the Macon Telegraph asserts the premise that stakeholders in the fight to bring relief to thousands of Georgia citizens should essentially stop complaining and take a look at all of the "positive" elements in HB1. In an attempt to respond to the Macon Telegraph's opinion that Peake's back peddling and deal-making are "a compromise we can live with", we list below what the editors at the Telegraph probably think are their strongest arguments for compromise.
- While the delay, as Peake said, “is painful,” the earliest manufacturing could have begun, even if legal, would have been the end of this year.
Yes, it is true that the process of getting licensed and up and running as a medical marijuana producer takes a lot of time. This is precisely why the only compromise that made any sense at all would have been to institute both in-state production AND decriminalization, essentially providing temporary cover for patients and parents who would have been authorized patients later this year when production came online. Instead, the Telegraph tells us we should be happy with an outcome that will benefit only those parents who have the resources to travel to another state and find a new doctor that is willing to prescribe their child the medication, then figure out a way to smuggle it back.
- Peake is working with a Colorado marijuana manufacturer who has agreed to ship the product to Georgia as soon as the immunity bill is law. An official announcement is forthcoming. The THC in the product is so low it could be considered hemp by federal authorities.
And they will find out the same thing the Realm of Caring did when they said they were going to start shipping Charlotte's Web: No matter what you call it the government still calls it marijuana. In fact in a statement the Stanley brothers released apologizing to all the parents they promised to ship oil to they said:
"Unfortunately, despite the fact that the U.S. imports more hemp foods than any other country, the common association of CBD with high THC cannabis has caused more scrutiny for these hemp products than expected. For example a Minnesota mother may be facing charges for possessing a CBD product which she obtained for her son. Such tragic events, combined with the ever changing legal landscape of hemp/CBD products, have forced us to reconsider all potential ramifications of our previous distribution plans. Simply put: the last thing we want to do is put the families we serve in jeopardy.As a result, at the strong advice of our legal counsel, we have decided it is in the best interest of both present and future clients, as well as the longevity of the ROC program as a whole, that we hold our distribution plan to higher standards than the conventional hemp industry."
- South Carolina is four to six weeks from having a legal marijuana manufacturer. Those with a prescription could simply drive across the state line and purchase their medicine. Technically, federal officials could arrest those trafficking the drug, but it’s thought those officials would have bigger fish to fry.
First, the only reason South Carolina is discussing in-state production at all is because they found that the law, as initially passed, did nothing to help patients access the oil that they so desperately needed. In fact South Carolina followed the same path Georgia is taking by legalizing the drug first and establishing a study commission. And what's the first thing the commission found? That without in-state production their medical marijuana law meant nothing. State Senator Tom Davis, author of the original medical marijuana bill, told the Beaufort Gazette "It's almost like a black market out there," Davis said. "We provided relief for seizures, but we didn't provide a means for people in South Carolina to obtain it. It is incumbent upon us to find a way to get it in South Carolina."
"Four to six weeks from having a legal marijuana manufacturer"? This bill isn't even a law yet.
Second, South Carolina's medical marijuana law only covers three specific conditions, all related to pediatric epilepsy: Dravet Syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, and Refractory Epilepsy. The bill Peake promised last November included many more conditions, including cancer and glaucoma.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, South Carolina's medical marijuana law does not include reciprocity. In other words, despite Peak's assertion that all a parent would have to do is drive across the state line with a prescription, the truth is that it would be illegal for anyone to dispense the oil to anyone that is not a South Carolina resident.
- Peake would ask Gov. Deal to request from the Drug Enforcement Administration an exemption that would allow a manufacturer in Colorado to ship their product to a state agency for distribution. New York Gov. Mario Cuomo already has asked for such an exemption.
Yep, they did that in New York, for the sole purpose of granting GW Pharmaceuticals the ability to become the state's only provider of medical marijuana oil. Interestingly Governor Deal, who is likely to face continued investigations over constantly-expanding allegations of corruption, also eats at the table with GW Pharm.
Why should we HAVE to settle?
Despite spending a couple of months telling parents he was going to bring them home, it took only one meeting with Governor Deal for Peake to change his mind and "reach a compromise". So why should we, as the Telegraph suggests, just lie down and accept this political deal without fighting for the thousands of Georgians who have real illnesses that could be treated with medical marijuana? The Telegraph's editors act as if one branch of our government being strong-armed by another branch is a perfectly acceptable part of the political process. The truth is HB1 does nothing to alleviate the suffering of all but a few well-funded Georgians, and even those that will be helped will have to forever live with the fact that they have been forced to become felons in order to save their child's life. There is no compassion in what the Telegraph calls a compromise, only politics and profit. Screw that.