(ANTIMEDIA) Macon, Georgia — Though states around the country are legalizing both medicinal and recreational cannabis, many Americans in need of the plant still face difficulties obtaining it.
In Georgia, for example, which approved a medical marijuana program in 2015, only 1,300 patients qualify, and they are not actually allowed to obtain it. The Associated Press notes Georgia’s law “now provides low-THC cannabis oil to more than a thousand patients. Enrollees can have it, but they can’t cultivate, import or purchase the drug.” This stipulation leaves many Georgians without access to the plant they are ‘allowed’ to use.
Enter state Representative Allen Peake, who is evading the state’s edicts to provide cannabis oil to medical marijuana patients who are unable to get it themselves because of the law. Peake previously authored the 2015 bill that allowed medical access to cannabis and is currently working to expand the legality of the plant. In the meantime, he is providing the medicine to people all around the state.
AP reports that Peake imports the oil from outside Georgia but insists he does not know where it originates — and doesn’t want to know. “Quite frankly, I don’t know how the product gets here,” he says.
AP details his “quasi-legal” process:
“Each time one of the nondescript boxes arrives, Peake makes a significant donation to a foundation in Colorado that supports research of medical cannabis. He can’t make a direct payment, because that would be illegal. But with his donations of about $100,000 a year, he and his wife are able to supply the oil to hundreds of patients across Georgia.”
Peake and his wife distribute the cannabis oil for free because if they attempted to sell it, they would be committing a felony. Further, though medical marijuana is legal in Georgia, transporting it across state lines is not.
But that’s not the only reason Peake gives it away. He fundamentally believes in people’s right to medicate themselves. As the conservative Christian lawmaker — who also owns a successful chain of restaurants — told AP, “We’re going to do whatever it takes to be able to help get product to these families, these citizens who have debilitating illnesses.”
“‘I’ll never recover that money,’ but the satisfaction of helping people makes it all worthwhile, he said.”
Peake ensures that everyone he works with and who delivers the cannabis is “registered with the state and enrolled in the medical cannabis program so they can legally handle the product,” and though he isn’t a qualified patient himself, he says he obtained a medical cannabis card so he can “show it to constituents as he promotes the program.” That card allows him to legally possess the cannabis at his Macon, Georgia, office.
One mother whose daughter benefitted from cannabis oil after developing Dravet’s syndrome, a rare seizure disorder, helps Peake distribute his supply. “It shouldn’t be this way,” Shannon Cloud says. “You shouldn’t be meeting at a gas station or a Target parking lot to get medicine to somebody. You should be going to the place where it is produced and tested to get it dispensed to you in a regulated manner, but this is what we’re forced to do.”
Peake says at least 20 state representatives and senators have referred their constituents to him — even some who opposed legalizing medical marijuana but changed their minds when someone close to them became ill.
Considering lawmakers who previously opposed legalizing medical cannabis are having a change of heart — and a lawmaker like Peake is willing to risk his own freedom to make it accessible to those who need it — there is no doubt legalization efforts will only gain further traction in the near future.