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Greg Bluestein

A new push for medical marijuana in Georgia faces same old opposition

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Allen Peake, R-Macon, arguing last year for H.B. 1, the medical marijuana bill. Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com

Allen Peake, R-Macon, arguing last year for H.B. 1, the medical marijuana bill. Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com

State Rep. Allen Peake hopes to revive his effort to expand Georgia’s medical marijuana program after it stalled in a Senate committee by tacking it onto an unrelated bill this week – and promising to roll out a new push next year if it fails.

Expect him to face the same buzz saw of opposition from Gov. Nathan Deal, once his staunch ally. Deal has emerged as one of the sharpest critics of Peake’s proposal, which seeks to expand the list of medical conditions eligible for medical marijuana and eventually would allow Georgia manufacturers to grow the plant.

The governor said Tuesday that the state has already taken “significant steps” to allow medical marijuana by signing a bill last year that makes it legal for patients who suffer from cancer and some other illnesses to possess the drug if physicians sign off.

But he said more sweeping changes, such as clearance to cultivate the plant in Georgia, would have to come from federal lawmakers.

“I’m ready to have somebody tell me that those who support anything in this arena have put the same kind of pressure on the members of Congress that they put on the members of the Legislature and the Governor’s Office,” he said.

He urged advocates to press Congress to “actually solve the problem rather than us have to make partial fixes.”

Insider’s note: A similar version of this item appeared in the Morning Jolt.