State Rep. Allen Peake hopes lawmakers will legalize medical marijuana in 2015

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – State Representative Allen Peake says legalizing medical marijuana and bringing Georgia families back home will be a priority this session. 41NBC’s Amanda Castro caught up with the lawmaker to learn more before he heads back up to the Gold Dome.

Peake says House Bill One Haleigh’s Hope Act has taken over his life, but in a good way. He hopes to have the final details of the bill worked out before session starts on January 12th. Peake believes they’ve found the “sweet spot” that would allow the bill to help as many citizens as possible in a strict regulatory structure. He is also hoping the bill will pass and get to Governor Nathan Deal’s desk by the end of the session.

Although the medical marijuana bill isn’t finalized, Peake says there are some parameters. Those include immediate immunity from prosecution for families who left the state seeking medical treatment so they can come home. The bill would legalize only a medical cannabis oil taken in an oral form. Smoking is not allowed.

There would be a tightly regulated, very restrictive licensing process for in-state cultivation, manufacturing, and distribution of the oil with a limited number of licenses. The bill would meet all guidelines mandated by the federal government.

As part of the parameters for the bill, there would be tight security for all licensees. There would also be increased criminal and civil penalties for violations by licensees. Licensing would be administered by the Department of Revenue, similar to the structure already set up for liquor licensing.

Patients who meet the qualified medical conditions would have to get a recommendation from a qualified doctor. Patient certification and physician oversight would be administered by the Department of Public Health with the creation of a Medical Cannabis Advisory Board. Proposed qualified medical conditions include cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, ALS, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, mitochondrial disease, muscle spasticity disorder, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s disease, and terminal illness.

Peake expects the cost to administer this program is approximately $1,000,000, but anticipated the fees and taxes that will be generated will offset the administration costs.

Peake also talked about the Macon-Bibb Consolidation charter. He says he doesn’t anticipate state lawmakers to look at changing the 20% mandated cut. He adds there is already a part of the charter that allows the commission to vote on avoiding the cut due to a public safety and economic crisis situation.

Peake also expects lawmakers will tackle transportation funding, education funding, and tax reform.