Nathan Deal warms to limited medical marijuana expansion

Gov. Nathan Deal won’t soon be backing a measure to allow Georgia manufacturers to grow medical marijuana. But he sent an undeniable signal Tuesday that he’s OK with a more limited version of the proposal to expand the list of medical conditions eligible for the drug.

State Sen. Butch Miller, the governor’s floor leader, said late Tuesday that Deal is “neutral, at worst, on the bill” which is now pending in the Senate.

“The governor’s office has expressed, from day one, a strong reluctance to growing and manufacturing marijuana in Georgia, but he’s always been sensitive to the needs of the families,” said Miller. “If it makes it to the finish line, I’m confident he’ll sign it into law.”

That remains a big “if.” The Senate has refused to hold hearings on the measure and state Rep. Allen Peake, the Macon Republican who championed the bill, tried to revive it by tacking it onto an unrelated bill. It still faces an uncertain future.

Deal’s stance mirrors the position he took late last year when advocates pushed to cover more illnesses. But he emerged as one of the sharpest critics of Peake’s more ambitious effort to eventually let Georgia manufacturers grow the plant.

Peake said he was grateful for Deal’s support and that he was confident his proposal would reach a vote Thursday, the final frenetic day of the legislative session. 

“I feel confident that if the Senate passes the bill as is, and I desperately hope they will, that Gov. Deal will sign the bill,” said Peake. “The lives of hundreds more hurting Georgians will get a little better. And we will have passed a good law.”

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About the Author

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