Rep. Allen Peake's Heroic Political Career & Medical Cannabis Oil Crusade
Representative Allen Peake builds bridges between communities and ideologies regardless of the differences he has with those with whom he builds mutually beneficial connections because to him solving the problems at hand is all that is important.
Whether it’s toughening the laws for texting while driving or increasing penalties for taking financial advantage of people with Dementia and Alzheimer’s, Rep. Peake’s political missions seem to be intended for the true betterment of those he serves throughout the entire state of Georgia.
Now a name known throughout the nation, Rep. Allen Peake was able to convince the politicians in his home state of Georgia to pass the Haleigh’s Hope Act, which according to Peake, “allowed the legalization of medical cannabis oil for certain medical conditions in Georgia, if they’re (the patients) properly registered with the state by the physician.”
Peake, who represents Macon, Ga, went on to say, “We now have over 3,300 Georgia citizens that are registered with the state to legally possess medical cannabis oil and so far it's been a huge success as far as setting up that legal possession. The still gaping hole is how do they access the product and in most cases they have to go to another state and risk violating federal law by transporting it across state lines. What we're trying to do is fix that hole by allowing cultivation of medical cannabis for medicinal purposes only to produce medical cannabis oil in our state and we're hoping that maybe we could move forward with that legislation this session.”
In the meantime & in his normal, true heroic fashion, Representative Allen Peake has taken it upon himself to help fill in that “gaping hole” by handing out medical cannabis oil for FREE to registered patients.
Rep. Peake said, “It's a violation of federal law to transport medical cannabis across state lines. I’m not involved in that aspect at all. I don’t know how the product gets to Georgia but it gets here somehow…I’m not involved in the transportation of it across (state lines), so I’m not violating federal (law), but when I take possession of it, I have a card so I have the legal right to possess medical cannabis oil here in Georgia. I don't have the right to sell that product here in Georgia. So what we do is we give it out for free to Georgia citizens that are properly registered with the state. So to the best of our knowledge, and we've checked with the best lawyers, I'm not violating federal law and I'm not violating state law because we're giving the product away, but it does show the lunacy and the challenges because of the discrepancies between federal law and state law. That's why we are trying to push for cultivation here in Georgia so that the citizens are not faced with the potential of violating federal law by going and getting the product somewhere and bringing it back to Georgia.”
Honest self-reflection & a willingness to humbly correct & improve oneself are qualities not often openly seen in many politicians but these qualities are on full display when speaking with Rep. Peake. When asked if he thought the penalties in his previously passed legislation to curb texting while driving was enough, Rep. Peake replied, “Well, I'm not sure that it was…in hindsight you can always look at legislation and see how it can be improved.” He went on to say, “I still struggle with texting while driving. If I get a message from a family member or something important I need to reply back with, I still fight that urge. So that's why I think it's proper that at this time…we go to hands free. Maybe that's a better solution for the problem at this point.”
Mr. Peake was adamant in pointing out that “this isn’t just a young generation issue. I struggle with it. Anybody that uses the phone and uses text messaging consistently, they're going to struggle with this too. It’s an educational process for us all and as technology continues to change and control a lot of our lives, it’s something we all need to deal with.”
In regards to medical cannabis still being illegal on a federal level, Rep. Peake has said in the past that “we cannot wait for the federal government because people will continue to die.” When asked about Attorney General Jeff Session’s recent declaration that cannabis made people more, not less, likely to be opiate addicts, Mr. Peake said, “I think that his data is incorrect. There's been a study done by a University of Georgia Professor, Dr. David. Bradford, that showed that there's clear data that in states that have medical cannabis dispensaries there is a decrease in opioid usage, abuse and deaths. I don't agree with the Attorney General. I believe he's overreacting to the potential harmful effects of medical cannabis.”
Asked if he felt the Attorney General was causing even more harm by having this kind of stance, Mr. Peake replied, “I think he's hurting the cause in some respects, but the reality is it may backlash on him. My hope was that people would get so riled up that they would contact their congressman and tell them to change the law. That’s what needs to be done, quite frankly, is Congress needs to change the law so that marijuana is not a schedule one drug any further.”
When asked if contacting our representatives was truly an effective way for citizens to go about getting change done or if there is something more effective that people can do, Representative Peake said, “I think that there is no doubt that when our Congressmen hear from their citizens, their constituents, the people that vote for them, how they feel on an issue, it moves the needle, and so I would encourage folks to do that. Contact their Congressman. The U.S. Senators, Senator Isaacson, Senator Perdue. Make sure they know that individuals want them to change the law removing marijuana from a schedule one substance…I would encourage folks to reach out by phone and by email.”
Rep. Peake said, “Most polls will say anywhere from 70 to 75% support the cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes in our state so it is clear that the public is behind this, but there are still strong forces including law enforcement, which I have great respect for, and many faith-based organizations, including the Georgia Baptist association that are strong opponents of growing marijuana for even medicinal purposes in our state. Both those groups hold a lot of influence and sway with citizens in our state and with my colleagues, as well, too."
He went on to say, “There's also a lot of folks in influential positions who are saying, 'Hey, it's still a violation of federal law and we really can't do anything until Congress acts' and my response to that is that there are 30 states now that have medical cannabis access in their state, so they're all defying federal law. I think that it comes down to a state’s rights issue that we ought to do what’s in our best interest for our citizens.”
When asked about different communities decriminalizing the possession of marijuana as Atlanta recently did, Mr. Peake, who is personally opposed to the legalization of recreational marijuana, said, “I'm going to stay out of that fight. They can decide whether they want to do that or not. What I'm going to continue to push for is legal access for marijuana for medicinal purposes only at this point.”
The reason Mr. Peake says he is opposed to recreational use at this time is because he “believes in the potential therapeutic benefits for those with debilitating illnesses who could benefit from cannabis. The benefits or detriments for someone who wants to use it recreationally, I think the jury is still out on that and so, therefore, I would not support it.”
When speaking about the current limits on who can use medical marijuana in Georgia, Rep. Peake said, “Let's remove the legislature from making decisions of what conditions should be there. And let's leave that with physicians. Now I understand potential abuse for that, but again, that's why you have safeguards in place. That's why you have agencies that oversee physicians to make sure that there are not abuses and then to take action if there are abuses. So, yes, in a perfect world I would say let's just remove the conditions list and let doctors make that decision.”
The most challenging part of the entire process to legalize medicinal cannabis according to Mr. Peake has been that he “doesn’t like being on the opposite side of law enforcement and faith based organizations.” He said, “I'm a believer. A Christian. I'm a member of a Baptist Church. I don’t like being opposed by the Georgia Baptist Association. I'm also a strong believer in law enforcement and the value that they bring to our society. And so I don't like being opposed to law enforcement. That would be one thing.”
“The second thing I guess would be the frustration because I see every day the benefit that this (medical cannabis oil) is bringing to citizens who have debilitating illnesses. So it's a frustration that we can’t provide more access and more opportunity to some of the most critical of Georgia citizens, who suffer every day from pain and a chronic illness. Why we can’t provide access to them is just a frustrating aspect of this issue.”
In regards to whether he felt sympathy or not towards those, who are currently breaking the law in order to help family members receive medical cannabis oil, Peake replied, “We've tried to come up with a network to help citizens so they don't have to do that. If it's a mom or dad of a special needs child and they're going to fly to Colorado to obtain cannabis and come back, what if they're arrested? What happens to their child, a special needs child? Who’s going to take care of them? And so it's a significant problem and why we are pushing so hard to change the law so there's cultivation allowed in Georgia for access here in our state.”
When asked how he had been effective in influencing his colleagues to support the legalization of medical cannabis oil despite their previous views on the issue, Representative Peake replied, “Well, I think the credit for that goes to the families, who came and shared their stories and told their stories to my colleagues. Most of my colleagues when they heard the stories of the citizens, particularly those with special needs kids in most cases, that's what changed their hearts just like it changed mine. And so the real heroes of this effort are the families who gave up their time and energy and spent countless days at the Capitol sharing their stories.”
Rep. Peake helped pass a law that provided tax credits to rehabilitate historic properties. He said, “We've seen some significant improvement & significant developments in small communities all across our state. We've seen a lot of opportunities and economic projects that happened because of this tax credit… It's clearly an economic driver for developers who are looking to do big projects particularly on historical properties in our state.”
Instrumental in setting up Georgia’s first tax court, Mr. Peake said, “What we were looking for was how could small businesses & large businesses, who had complex tax issues and had disputes with the Department of Revenue over those tax issues, where could they have an avenue that wouldn't cost a lot of legal fees and a lot of burden but try to attempt to get these disputes resolved. Small businesses or individuals, who maybe couldn't afford to hire an attorney, but wanted their day in court to dispute their issues… It's proved to be very successful and a great avenue and a great opportunity for small businesses and individuals to come deal with the disputes that they have with the department of revenue.
In 2012, after many decades of debate, Macon and Bibb County voters approved the consolidation of their two governments. Allen Peake, who was an outspoken proponent of this merger because he felt the two communities would be stronger united, said, “Why have city and county fighting with each other when they should be fighting together to get industry and businesses into the community and so far it's been a huge success of reducing the overall tax revenue and tax burden on our citizens. There's been some growing pains and some bumps along the way and we will continue to have that, but so far it's been a roaring success.”
The Georgia Legislature has recently toyed with the idea of allowing casinos to be developed. Mr. Peake said, “I do see the economic benefits of large scale casino resort style stops. I would be in favor of putting it on the ballot & letting Georgia citizens decide whether they want to allow those large scale casino gambling spots to be allowed in our state.”
Allen Peake proves time and time again that his personal motivation is the protection, success & freedom of the individual citizens that he serves. Even when he is personally hesitant about an issue, he is willing to step back and listen to the points being made. Because of this quality, Allen Peake has been effective in bringing about true change to the communities and people he serves.
Rep. Peake proves through his words, actions and successes that he is a humble man such as when he gives the credit to the families of the patients in need of medical marijuana for the reason behind the passing of medical cannabis in Georgia.
He proves that he is a thoughtful man such as when he reflects on his inner turmoil of feeling divided between his personal loyalty to the faith based and law enforcement communities vs. his loyalty to the patients, who he now personally knows, respects and serves throughout the entire state of Georgia and who are in desperate need of legal access to their Doctor's prescribed medicine.
Mr. Peake has proven many times over that he is an unrelenting fighter and that he cannot & will not back down from the evidence he now knows to be true regarding medical cannabis oil, which already is improving and saving people’s lives all over the United States of America.
Allen Peake wants the people of his state to have an actual voice in how their lives are shaped. He is willing to put actual choices on the ballot for the voters to vote on and he is also often willing to look the other way in the name of freedom and allow communities to decide for themselves what is best.
Mr. Peake is willing to reflect on the past in order to improve the future even if that means correcting his own legislation. He is willing to actually listen to his constituents like he did the day he chose to listen to the story of Haleigh Cox, a little girl in desperate need of someone to pay attention to the facts and not opinions about the benefits of medical cannabis oil and what it truly could do to drastically improve her daily life and many other people just like her.
Rep. Peake made it very clear that he is extremely passionate about his job. He also said that he’s a “very lucky guy. Blessed more than I deserve.” The good people he serves are also very lucky and blessed to have Rep. Peake on their side, fighting the good fight.
REPRESENTATIVE ALLEN PEAKE IS GOOD PEOPLE.