More than 100 docs, and four phonies, apply to dispense medical marijuana

Georgia's nascent medical marijuana program has attracted a surge of attention from the medical community.

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, who heads the state Department of Public Health, reports that more than 100 physicians have signed up for licenses to dispense the drug.

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A nagging case shows no sign of going away. From our AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin:

The State Bar of Georgia on Thursday said Georgia House Speaker David Ralston should answer more questions over a complaint filed by a former client and said it opposed his request that the matter be resolved with a settlement that would require no more than public reprimand.

In a filing with the State Disciplinary Board, the Bar argues that Ralston’s June filing of a petition suggesting possible punishment in the case was “inaccurate, incomplete or immaterial,” and it demanded an evidentiary hearing “where the proof of each party can be tested for accuracy.”

Ralston is accused of violating nine State Bar rules and of allowing his duties as a legislator “to adversely affect his representation” of his client. The state Supreme Court, which decides punishment against attorneys, appointed Hiawassee attorney Mark Dehler as “special master” of the case. Dehler will eventually present his findings to the court.

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Would-be Republican kingmaker Jack Kingston is wading into another statehouse race.

The former Savannah congressman has endorsed former Brookhaven Mayor J. Max Davis in his Aug. 11 runoff against Democrat Taylor Bennett. The two will hold a meet-and-greet on Saturday at Lucky's Burger & Brew in Brookhaven.

Kingston said he's known the Davis family for longer than 25 years, dating to when he served in the state House with the candidate's father.

He "embodies the Republican principles of limited, local and efficient government and lower taxes for all citizens.”

Kingston has given his support this year to two other candidates in close races: Georgia GOP chair John Padgett and John Guest, an independent who ran unsuccessfully in an open south Atlanta district.

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In that same race, Democrat Taylor Bennett, meanwhile, is standing by the Planned Parenthood endorsement he picked up earlier this campaign.

The reproductive health group has come under fire after an undercover video caught a PP executive speaking of the demand for tissue from aborted fetuses. From the Associated Press:

The video shows Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood's senior director of medical services, discussing procedures for providing fetal body parts to researchers.

Planned Parenthood officials said Thursday that Nucatola has been "reprimanded." They did not elaborate. The organization's president, Cecile Richards, apologized for the tone of some of Nucatola's recorded statements.

Nucatola is heard in the video referring to fetal hearts, lungs and livers and to efforts to retrieve these organs intact rather than crush them during an abortion procedure. She also is heard giving a range of monetary estimates for their procurement.

The commercial sale of fetal tissue is outlawed. Planned Parenthood, which provides abortions and other reproductive health services, says it legally helps women who want to make not-for-profit donations of their fetus' organs for scientific research.

Bennett told our AJC colleague Mark Niesse that the organization has a track record of providing essential care to women in Georgia "while upholding the highest medical and ethical standards."

He added:

As we see in the news every day, access to quality affordable healthcare is unfortunately out of reach for too many families. Planned Parenthood has made it clear they will fully comply with any investigation, and I trust that will resolve any concerns regarding their continued work to expand healthcare access for women and families in Georgia.

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Take that, South Carolina. The governor's office has let it be known that since Volvo spurned Georgia for its neighbor in early May, some 3,455 jobs promising more than $800 million in investments have come to the Peach State.

"Sometimes the home runs look good," said Chris Riley, Gov. Nathan Deal's chief of staff. "But it's the singles and doubles that really add up."

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Susan Coppedge Amato, an assistant U.S. Attorney in Atlanta, was nominated by President Barack Obama on Thursday to serve as director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

The State Department position is designed to fight global human trafficking. Amato had been on a list of interviewees for a DeKalb County judgeship this year.

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Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp was nominated to the executive committee of the National Association of Secretaries of State, where he will serve as vice president for the South. From the press release:

“I am honored by the trust that my colleagues from around the country have placed in me to serve on the executive committee once again. NASS is an outstanding organization and the work that its members do will be even more important leading up to next year’s presidential election cycle.”

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Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, will be in Phoenix this weekend to speak at the liberal Netroots Nation gathering about law enforcement policy.

Johnson has taken a lead legislative role on police militarization and other issues arising from the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Johnson will speak on a panel with community activists called "America Awakens: Activism and Action Restoring Trust Between Community and Police."

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