Medical marijuana won't be legalized in Georgia any time soon. But Gov. Nathan Deal outlined two plans to begin moving that way ahead of next year's legislative session.
The first option would involve the expanded use of clinical trials for children with epileptic disorders through a private drugmaker, GW Pharmaceuticals, and Georgia Regents University. The second would bring a state clinical trial led by Georgia Regents using cannabis oil obtained from federal regulators in Mississippi.
Deal's aides have been working with federal regulators for weeks after medical marijuana legislation failed to pass amid GOP infighting. You can find the backstory here, but Deal said he was confident from conversations with the federal Food and Drug Administration that both routes would be both legal and safe.
The governor also announced the start of a pilot program to study the privatization of Georgia's foster care system. The program involves a limited study in two Georgia regions.
It's part of a larger strategy of taking executive action where lawmakers failed, and the governor quipped that he was doing lawmakers a favor.
"I'm taking it out of their hands by acting now," he said, adding: "I don't think there's jealousy over who gets credit. I just don't think we need to wait until the next legislative session to get this done."
Critics see an election-year conversion. The campaign of Democrat Jason Carter, his party's nominee for governor, panned Deal for not more aggressively backing the plan during the session.
"It's not leadership to wait around for election years to make token gestures," said Carter spokesman Bryan Thomas.
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