30 March 2016

They report

The emails came directly from the governor’s office, and 11Alive is holding the powerful accountable on this issue.

11Alive’s Chris Hopper obtained 268 pages of email through an open records request.

The emails were sent between Macon Representative Allen Peake, the legislator directly behind medical marijuana legislation in Georgia, and Gov. Nathan Deal’s office between November of 2015 and March of 2016.

Inside the medical marijuana community, Peake is known as the “Godfather.” It’s a title earned after his relentless pursuit to legalize cannabis oil for a small group of Georgians back in 2015.

With no way to purchase the oil here though, challenges remain, so Peake again in 2016 brought legislation to the table, only it appears the table was already set.

The timeline of emails starts in November 2015 with a fact-finding trip to Colorado that was organized by Peake.

On that trip, top members of Deal’s staff and Georgia’s top law enforcement officials got a behind the scenes look at the marijuana industry.

In email exchanges between the group following that trip, the words “nightmare”, “mess”, and “slippery slope” were used to express their concerns.

In mid-November, Peake organized another trip to either Minnesota or Connecticut.  (See page one of this .PDF) 

But in an email dated November 16, Ryan Teague, the governor’s executive counsel said, “Need to shut down the other trips. Governor not supportive of any further trips on this issue.”

Peake replied the next day and said he would visit on his own and, “I hope we won’t let law enforcement’s fear stop us from doing something good for our citizens.”  (See page 1 of .pdf) 

Later that morning, the governor’s chief of staff, Chris Riley, responded with a stern warning and an order, “There is no appetite to move any legislation, sign any legislation, or even gather additional information to write legislation on this issue. If you feel the need to continue to pursue this, I am going to need you to step down as a floor leader because I don’t want you to be embarrassed when the governor states this in a public setting and you’re left holding the bag.”

That email from Riley to Peake shows the governor’s mind was already made up even though it was sent a month before the Georgia Commission on Medical Cannabis had its final meeting.

Read all the emails and the full report at