Political Notes – Newspaper editor’s pot plant is growing

[private]Newspaper editor Mike Buffington announced recently in his Jackson Herald column that he is growing a marijuana plant as a protest of the state’s reluctance to pass a law that would allow the cultivation of marijuana for the purposes of obtaining medical cannabis oil.

Buffington took on this civic crusade because he has a son who has suffered from a major seizure disorder for 15 years.

“I don’t know if cannabis oil could help him, but as a parent, I want all options available,” he wrote in his most recent column. “To withhold that option, or make it unreasonably difficult, is simply cruel.”

Buffington said he mail-ordered a marijuana seed from a European company, along with an LED grow light and heating pad from Amazon:

Last Tuesday, it all arrived. I watered the dirt, put in the seed, then set it all up in a south-facing window so it will get as much daylight as possible. Saturday morning, a small shoot popped up out of the dirt. It’s now about 1/8” high as it reaches up for the light.

I don’t have a green thumb. I hope I don’t kill it. If it needs help, I’ll put on an old Grateful Dead album and let Jerry Garcia play music for it.

I don’t intend to harvest my marijuana plant for consumption — I’m growing it as a symbol of hope for the thousands of people in Georgia who might benefit from use of the cannabis oil. I’m also growing it as a protest aimed at those who irrationally oppose allowing cultivation of medical marijuana in the state.

Rep. Allen Peake’s bill authorizing in-state cultivation (HB 722) is now undergoing committee hearings but has yet to get a committee vote. Gov. Nathan Deal opposes it, but House Speaker David Ralston supports the Peake bill.

Expand Medicaid?

It is a yearly ritual that Democratic lawmakers will introduce a bill calling for the acceptance of federal funds under the Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid coverage to more low-income Georgians.

Just as ritualistically, Gov. Nathan Deal will say the state can’t afford to expand Medicaid coverage and the legislative leadership will refuse to allow the bill to move. The only bills that do move, in fact, are ones that make it more difficult (if not impossible) to expand Medicaid coverage.

But the game is still played. House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta) has introduced this year’s version of the Medicaid expansion bill, HB 823.

Abrams is hopeful that her bill, which would expand healthcare coverage to about 500,000 more people if it actually passed, might be nudged along by the continuing threats of rural hospitals shutting down because of financial problems that could be alleviated by the federal funds.

There are still signs from a few Republican lawmakers like state Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) that there is some support on this issue from the folks on the GOP side of the aisle.

One of the latest such legislators is Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody), who said in a TV interview last week that the state might well pursue Medicaid expansion through getting some kind of waiver on how the federal funds could be used, as other Republican-led states have done.

“It’s inevitable,” Millar said. He added that Medicaid expansion might well not take place until after Deal leaves office in 2018, but still, “I think it’s inevitable.”

Charter schools ranking

Gov. Nathan Deal said the State Charter Schools Commission of Georgia has received 12 out of 12 points on the “Index of Essential Practices (Index),” an assessment of charter school authorizer quality compiled by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA).

“We must empower Georgia’s citizens with public school options and local flexibility if we want to continue to improve student achievement for future generations,” Deal said.

Third Congressional District speculation

A running joke among capitol lobbyists has been the rumored “entry” of former state senator, prison commissioner, and Carrollton mayor Wayne Garner into the Third Congressional District race.

When we asked Garner if the rumors about him considering the race were true, he answered sarcastically: “Yeah, tell everybody I’m in, I raised $27, and my goal is $250.”

© 2016 by The Georgia Report


Tags: Allen Peake , charter school commission , Fran Millar , Medicaid expansion , medical marijuana , Mike Buffington , Stacey Abrams , Third Congressional District , Wayne Garner