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Georgia lawmaker deals cannabis oil in shadows of the law

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MACON, Ga. (AP) — Once a month, a cardboard box from Colorado appears at the office of a conservative Christian lawmaker in central Georgia, filled with derivatives of marijuana, to be distributed around the state in the shadows of the law.Operating in ways he hopes will avoid felony charges of drug trafficking, state Rep. Allen Peake is taking matters into his own hands. He's shepherding cannabis oil to hundreds of sick people who are now allowed by the state to possess marijuana, but have no legal way of obtaining it.A Georgia state lawmaker is helping to distribute cannabis oil to hundreds of sick people who are now allowed by the state to possess medical marijuana, but have no legal way of obtaining it. "We're going to do whatever it takes to be able to help get product to these families, these citizens who have debilitating illnesses," Peake said. He spoke with The Associated Press in his Macon office, where he runs his business, his campaign operation and his underground medical marijuana network.Peake has successfully championed the creation and expansion of Georgia's medical marijuana program, which 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 straight-laced Republican is about the last person many would expect to take up such a cause.He's the CEO of one of the nation's largest franchise restaurant businesses, with more than 100 locations including Cheddar's and Fazoli's. He says he runs this business on Biblical principles and donates to Christian charities, a practice that led him into the world of cannabis when he began helping families with the costs of moving to Colorado for the legal access to treatments they couldn't get in Georgia.Those connections led to the arrival each month of boxes on his office doorstep, filled with bottles of cannabis oil of varying concentrations within Georgia's now-legal THC limit.Peake says he doesn't know who brings it into the state, and doesn't ask.Marijuana remains a federally outlawed Schedule 1 narcotic, even though 29 states now have comprehensive medical marijuana programs. Seventeen others, including Georgia, allow the use of marijuana products for medical reasons in limited situations or as a legal defense, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.In 2009, President Barack Obama instructed the Department of Justice not to prosecute people for possessing or distributing medical marijuana, a policy President Donald Trump has not changed.But transporting marijuana across state lines? That remains a felony."Quite frankly, I don't know how the product gets here," Peake said.

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