When the General Assembly decriminalized cannabis oil last month for the treatment of a handful of acute medical conditions, lawmakers stopped short of allowing the marijuana derivative to be locally cultivated and produced — which means those qualifying patients wishing to use the substance must risk purchasing the extract elsewhere and trafficking it through states in which it remains illegal.
Because the oil contains low levels of THC, the euphoric chemical responsible for marijuana’s psychological effects, it may be shipped from out of state. However, it remains a federal crime to transport cannabis oil across state lines, so those Georgians whose conditions require higher levels of THC than those permissible to be shipped must risk breaking the law.
But on Tuesday Gov. Nathan Deal appointed state Rep. Allen Peake—who muscled “Haleigh’s Hope Act,” named for a 5-year-old Forsyth girl with a severe form of epilepsy, through the state legislature—to chair a special state commission to explore in-state production models for the oil.
The panel will deliver recommendations to the governor on how best to foster local production while not also fostering the recreational use of marijuana.
The legislation’s champion in the upper chamber, state Sen. Renee Unterman, and Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black were also tapped for the commission.
Governor Nathan Deal on Tuesday green lighted the commercial sale and regulation of fireworks in Georgia.
The new law, which cleared the General Assembly only hours before the legislative session expired, will take affect July 1 — in time for Independence Day celebrations across the state.
All of Georgia’s neighbors already allow for the sale of fireworks, though previous attempts to legalize their sale locally bombed amid opposition from health groups and public safety officials.
Deal, on Tuesday, said he believed the debate this year was less incendiary because of safety carveouts included in the bill. The new law requires those businesses or nonprofits selling fireworks to be licensed by the state and pay a $5,000 fee, which will be used for public safety purposes.
“People in our state are crossing state lines and buying fireworks,” Deal said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We have so many neighbors around us that already authorize the sale of fireworks, I think this just made sense. And I think we have taken every precaution we can to try to eliminate any injuries associated with it.”
The third most senior GOP lawmaker in the Georgia state House of Representatives will resign his leadership post in exchange for a state appointment, a Republican with knowledge of the arrangement told Tipsheet.
House Majority Leader Larry O’Neal, who was elected to leadership in 2010 after his party’s representation under the Gold Dome jumped by triple digits, will be appointed to a state board in about a month’s time, according to a GOP source who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the plans.
O’Neal, a tax lawyer, had originally sought to lead state Department of Revenue, but Gov. Nathan Deal instead appointed then-state Rep. Lynne Riley as commissioner last November.
The source, who cautioned that the jump had nothing to do with the majority leader’s role in the recent transportation spending package, said that O’Neal’s timeline may be accelerated now that word of the arrangement has leaked.
Attempts by Tipsheet to contact O’Neal and a Deal spokesman Monday morning were unsuccessful.
O’Neal’s plans to resign were first reported over the weekend by Tom Crawford of GA Report.
A lobbyist for the Georgia Baptist Convention says he and a group of local religious leaders were denied a Monday meeting with Governor Nathan Deal to discuss religious freedom legislation that remains stalled in the state House.
Mike Griffin, a pastor who whips votes on behalf of the church confederation, said on Twitter that “no time was found” by the governor or his staff to meet with the dozen-plus faith leaders who crashed Deal’s office on Monday. (Griffin also posted a picture of the mostly-stone-faced crew from the governor’s parlor in the state capitol.)
— Michael R. Griffin (@mikegriffinsr) March 30, 2015
But a Republican with knowledge of the governor’s schedule tells Tipsheet that Griffin and co. had not previously scheduled a meeting with Deal, whose calendar was already blocked out.
“There was no meeting schedule,” the GOPer said. “The General Assembly is in its last days of session and the governor’s calendar is busy. Most items on his schedule—as you would expect for a governor—are booked weeks in advance.”
Deal’s Monday morning schedule, of which a portion was shared with Tipseet, included a speech at an event honoring Georgia’s Vietnam War veterans, a weekly senior staff meeting, a huddle with lawmakers, and a bill signing.
The Georgia House of Representatives on Wednesday legalized a non-euphoric form of medical marijuana for the treatment of a handful of acute medical conditions.
The legislation, which the state Senate green lighted on Tuesday, now heads to the desk of Gov. Nathan Deal for final approval.
If signed into law, the new program would allow for the use of cannabis oil for only those Georgians suffering from severe seizure disorders, Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, amytrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and terminal cancer or those whose treatments induce vomiting.
Deal’s office rebuffed a reporter on Tuesday when asked whether the governor would sign the bill even as the governor’s top spokesman was celebrating the legislation’s passage in the upper chamber.
“Cannot wait to put this bill signing event together,” Deal communications director Brian Robinson wrote on Facebook after the bill cleared the Senate. “Great accomplishment for children in need of help.”
The comment, first flagged by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, was made on the profile of state Rep. Allen Peake, the primary House sponsor of the legislation.
Georgia Senate lawmakers approved legislation Tuesday legalizing cannibis oil for patients suffering from one of eight conditions.
The bill, which now heads to the lower chamber, does not give blanket license to use the substance, though: only those sufferings from diagnosed seizure disorders, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, amytrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or cancer patients whose diagnosis is terminal or whose treatment program is inducing vomiting or gastrointestinal distress.
The marijuana normalization outfit NORML says the proposal would bring Georgia to parity with eleven other states that already allow non-euphoric cannibis oil, but twenty-three other states already have more expansive allowances for medicinal marijuana.
Even as the bill has cleared one critical hurdle, two more remain.
State Rep. Allen Peake, the bill’s primary sponsor, will reintroduce the Senate-approved legislation next Monday for debate in the House.
A spokesperson for Gov. Nathan Deal declined to comment Tuesday when asked by Reuters if the governor would approve the legislation, but conservative consultant Todd Rehm wrote Wednesday on his blog that he has been “told the governor will sign it as early as Friday,” if it clears the House.
Following Tuesday’s midterm victories, the Georgia Republican Party is signaling an expansion of its minority outreach efforts.
In an interview with the AJC, minority outreach director Leo Smith highlighted the …