Political Insider

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Read Allen Peake's appeal to expand Georgia's medical marijuana program

State Rep. Allen Peake is the unquestioned godfather of Georgia's medical marijuana program, but his measure to expand the initiative this year seemed doomed before a late compromise between House and Senate lawmakers saved it.

House lawmakers overwhelmingly approved that deal on Tuesday, which expands the list of conditions eligible for the program, and the Senate is expected to follow suit this week.

Before the vote, the Macon Republican delivered an emotional speech thanking his colleagues for their support.

Here's a snippet of it:

And before I yield for questions, I would like to add one final thought. 

For four straight years, this body has stood up for the rights of hurting Georgia citizens to legally possess medical cannabis oil in our state.  Speaker Ralston has made it clear every year that this issue is important to this chamber.  And now we have taken the next step of allowing more of our citizens to have this option for their medical conditions. 

Many of those citizens would like to thank you, but since they can’t stand with me in this well, I’m going to thank you for some of them. 

On behalf of Colin, an 8-year-old autistic boy whose dad Dale has fought for several years for inclusion of autism on the registry, and who has been using medical cannabis oil illegally for two years, and who can now go out to eat with his parents, who has learned to start feeding himself, who just this past week said his first word – Momma.  On behalf of Colin, thank you for your support of this bill. 

On behalf of Abby, a cute little 6-year-old girl, who suffers from such severe autism that she would bite her arms bloody and scratch herself until her skin bled for hours, whose mom tried everything possible to stop the raging, and finally tried medical cannabis oil illegally for Abby, and who has seen an almost miraculous improvement, and is calm, and happy, and learning, and who amazes her teachers every day with her improvement.  On behalf of Abby, thank you for your support of this bill. 

On behalf of Gage, a strapping 17-year-old young man who has suffers from Tourette’s syndrome, so severe that last year he was having 4 tics every minute, over 1600 a day, that interrupted his life and left him unable to function normally, whose mom made the courageous decision last year to provide him medical cannabis oil illegally, and whose life for the last year has dramatically improved, with only 10-20 tics a week.  Gage is happy, healthy and thriving.  On behalf of Gage, thank you for supporting this bill. 

On behalf of the unknown gay man in Atlanta, whose life has been ravaged because of AIDS, who suffers unbearable pain because of his condition, but who now will have a legal option for medical cannabis oil to ease his suffering.  On behalf of him and other AIDS patients, thank you for supporting this bill. 

On behalf of the elderly woman, like my own late mother, who has come to the realization that Alzheimer's is about to take away her mind and her normal life, but know might have some hope because medical cannabis oil is a legal option.  On behalf of beloved grandmothers all over Georgia, thank you for supporting this bill. 

On behalf of Reid, the 3 year old boy who has made many visits to this Capitol with his mom and dad, to fight for inclusion of Epidermylosis Bullosa on this list.  This rare skin disease is painful every day for Reid, but he has seen relief from using medical cannabis oil that is making life bearable for this adorable little fellow.  On behalf of Reid, thank you for supporting this bill. 

And finally, on behalf of a former colleague, one of our own, who sent me a text last week, and said this – “I’ve tried not bother you on the medical cannabis issue, but I wanted to thank you for what you are doing.  My wife has peripheral neuropathy, and doesn’t like to talk about it.  But if people saw the pain, numbness, the cramping of her hands and feet, and the side effects of the drugs she now takes, they would ALL be advocates too.  Thank you for fighting for her.”  So, on behalf of our friend and former colleague, I thank you for your support of this bill. 

This past week a certain group advocating against medical cannabis has argued that this is just an emotional issue, and we are just telling these stories to stir up our emotions so we will pass this bill.  Well, you know what, it is an emotional issue, because it is changing peoples lives, making life bearable, giving our citizens hope.  And for that reason, without hesitation, and with as much conviction as I can muster, I humbly ask for your support of this bill.


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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.