Georgia Lt. Gov. Cagle accused of taking revenge over marijuana bill


A Republican state representative says Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle is taking political revenge on him by killing a bill that aims to save the lives of high school athletes.

State Rep. David Clark said Wednesday he received a call from an ally of Cagle, a leading Republican candidate for governor, within an hour after Clark attended a press conference Monday pressuring Cagle to support an expansion of Georgia’s medical marijuana program.

Clark, R-Buford, said he was told that the Senate won’t pass either of his bills, which are designed to detect the warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest in high school sports and to allow medical marijuana for post-traumatic stress disorder. Clark declined to identify who called him Monday.

“It’s payback, and it’s wrong because the cardiac arrest bill is going to save children’s lives,” said Clark, who served in the military in Afghanistan. “He’s going to kill it because I asked for a bill that I’m passionate about.”

Cagle, the president of the Senate, is unaware of Clark’s comments, said Cagle’s chief of staff, Bo Butler.

“No one has approached the lieutenant governor or his staff about this proposal” on sudden cardiac arrest, Butler wrote in an emailed response to questions.

Clark said Cagle is taking retribution because two of Cagle’s Republican rivals for governor, Clay Tippins and Sen. Michael Williams, criticized him during the press conference for blocking the medical marijuana legislation, House Bill 764.

The unrelated cardiac arrest measure, House Bill 743, would require coaches and students to learn the warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest and remove students from the field when necessary.

The mother of a 19-year-old football player who died in August after collapsing on the field said she’s sickened that the bill to prevent heart attacks is being held up.

“We’re talking about saving children’s lives,” said Michelle Wilson of Lawrenceville, the mother of Nick Blakely. “I’m so upset. What does cannabis oil have to do with this bill? It’s not fair.”

Instead of adding PTSD to the list of conditions treatable by medical marijuana, Cagle has said he supports forming a study committee to recommend how patients can safely access medical marijuana.

State Rep. Allen Peake, the Georgia Legislature’s strongest backer of medical marijuana, said petty political fights shouldn’t stop a good bill from becoming law.

“A bill that could save high school kids’ lives is going to die because he (Clark) spoke out,” said Peake, R-Macon, one of the most prominent Republican supporters of Tippins in the governor’s race.

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