Georgia: Governor's Leaked Emails Show He Never Intends To Expand Medical Marijuana Law
By Derrick Stanley
Even though the majority of Georgia residents are in favor of legislation to make medical marijuana legal, a new report shows that Governor Nathan Deal had nixed the idea of growing marijuana in Georgia long before the state legislature shut it down.
An internal email trail between Governor Deal’s office and Representative Allen Peake, the lawmaker responsible for introducing the cultivation proposal, reveals that ever since Georgia officials got back from a Colorado fact-finding mission in November 2015, the plan has been to ensure a medical marijuana expansion plan never occurs.
The emails obtained by TV 11Alive’s Chris Hopper show that Governor Deal’s cronies, which included leading law enforcement officials, apparently did such a good job defaming the Colorado cannabis market — calling it a “mess” and a “nightmare” — that Deal had already made the decision never to allow marijuana to be grown in Georgia by the middle of last November.
In addition, the emails show that when Representative Peake made an effort to schedule future visits to additional medical marijuana groups, the governor’s chief of staff, Chris Riley asked him to “shut down the other trips” because the governor did not support any exploration or further consideration of the issue.
Peake responded to Riley’s email by offering to take the trip on his own dime, and that he hoped the Governor would not “let law enforcement’s fear stop us from doing something good for our citizens.”
The morning after Peake’s reply was sent, November 17,2015, the Governor’s office replied with a second message in order to be “more direct” about its unwillingness to consider a medical marijuana cultivation bill in the 2016 legislative session.
“There is no appetite to move any legislation, sign any legislation, or even gather additional information to write legislation on this issue,” Riley wrote. “If you feel the need to continue to pursue this, I am going to need you to step down as a floor leader because I don’t want you to be embarrassed when the governor states this in a public setting and you’re left holding the bag."
The emails show that Governor Deal had already decided against the future of Georgia’s medical marijuana program nearly a month before a special committee that he appointed to guide him on the cultivation issue completed its final discussion. The day before the Georgia Commission on Medical Cannabis held its last meeting, however, Governor Deal suggested in the media that the potential for a functional medical marijuana program was not likely to happen in the near future because he didn’t believe the state had the “ability to control something of that nature.”
Ultimately, the Georgia Senate killed House Bill 722 before the end of their last session. The proposed bill would have allowed a handful of cultivation centers and dispensaries to operate in the state.