Nathan Deal warns lawmaker who confessed to passing along medicinal pot

The governor said it was “problematic to say the least” when he read that state Rep. Allen Peake told the AJC’s Political Insider that he’s getting medical marijuana from states where it’s legal and bringing it across state lines for a child suffering from debilitating seizures.

What he described could be considered a felony in the eyes of federal and even local prosecutors. Said Peake:

Deal, when asked Tuesday about Peake's admission, paused before issuing a carefully-worded response:

The medical marijuana bill that took effect last year made it legal for people who suffer from cancer, sickle cell disease and other illnesses to possess up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil if a physician signs off. It covered parents, patients and other caregivers - but not others, like Peake, without a license to obtain the drug.

But it's still illegal to cultivate marijuana in Georgia, which means families have to trek to Colorado and other states that have legalized the drug for medical purposes. That makes travel a tricky prospect, since most states, as well as the federal government, make possessing the drug a crime.

Peake's House Bill 722 would expand the number of diseases and conditions for which cannabis oil could be prescribed and allow for in-state cultivation of the drug. But it's also raised eyebrows from critics who worry it would pave the way to legalize recreational use of the drug and others fearful that it gives medical marijuana patients too much leeway.

It is also the latest sign of a growing divide between the governor and a state lawmaker who was once among his most trusted lieutenants. Peake has already managed to muster enough support in the House to pass the measure despite Deal’s objections.

Peake, a Macon Republican, declined to comment. But Blaine Cloud, who is using the drug to treat his daughter Alaina's rare genetic disorder, said he was stunned by Deal's comments.

Said Cloud:

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

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.