Gov. Nathan Deal signs medical cannabis legislation
Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) announced May 9 that Gov. Nathan Deal signed his Senate Bill 16. SB 16 expands Georgia’s medical cannabis oil program by adding six illnesses to the list of qualifying medical conditions to allow patients to legally possess up to 20 fluid ounces of cannabis oil with a maximum of 5 percent THC in the state.
“With Gov. Deal’s signature today, Georgia’s medical cannabis program takes another positive step forward,” Peake said in a news release. “As of today, 1,738 citizens and 354 doctors are registered with Georgia’s Low THC Oil Registry program, and I’m confident that the addition of six conditions to this very successful program will allow even more hurting Georgians with debilitating illnesses to have a ray of hope for a better quality of life.”
He said he hopes more gaps will be filled during the 2018 legislative session.
AIDS was one of the six illnesses and conditions added onto the registry, along with Tourette’s syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, Epidermolysis Bullosa, Alzheimer’s disease, peripheral neuropathy and hospice patients.
SB 16 also allows reciprocity of medical cannabis registration cards issued by other states, so long as their oil meets Georgia’s legal standards and the individual hasn’t been in the state longer than 45 days. In addition, the new law removes the residency requirement for participating in the Low THC Oil Registry, and changes reporting requirements for physicians.
City honors life of late Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner
Several hundred mourners gathered at Ebenezer Baptist Church on May 7 to honor the life of the late Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner, who died of breast cancer on April 18. Garner was a beloved community figure and the first openly LGBT member of the commission.
Speakers at the service reflected on the legacy she left through her work in the city and as a champion for social justice and LGBT rights.
Garner was the co-founder of Southerners On New Ground, served on the boards of Lambda Legal and the Gay and Lesbian Task Force, co-convened the Atlanta African-American Lesbian Gay Alliance, helped organize the first Human Rights Campaign dinner in Atlanta and co-founded the Fulton County Task Force on HIV/AIDS.
“In the seven years that I worked by her side, Joan in so many different forms held a presence. Whether she was navigating public policy matters or more recently as she stood up to cancer, I can’t recall a moment where she drifted from her calming manner, beautiful smile and dedication to the task at hand. She drew upon her seemingly endless force of energy and radiated the aura of her presence,” said Ross King, executive director of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia.
Other speakers called Garner a “lighthouse … who could gently show the way” and praised her compassion, values and principles.
LGBT groups react to Trump’s ‘religious freedom’ EO
President Donald Trump commemorated the 2017 National Day of Prayer in the White House Rose Garden on May 4 by signing a “religious freedom” executive order that, to the relief of LGBT and equality organizations, was not on its face anti-LGBT.
The primary focus of the executive order addresses the Johnson Amendment, a 1954 rule that threatens religious institutions with a loss of their tax-exempt status should their leaders take to the pulpit with political issues. By signing the executive order, Trump said he would prevent the Johnson Amendment from interfering with faith leaders’ First Amendment rights.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, there is no reported situation where a church lost its tax-exempt status or was punished for sermons delivered from the pulpit.
A number of national LGBT rights organizations spoke out against the executive order that afternoon, and the Twitterverse was rife with feedback about the order, as well as a more anti-LGBT draft predecessor that leaked in February. Education organization GLSEN issued a statement saying its leadership was relieved the more anti-LGBT language didn’t make it into the final version. However, Executive Director Eliza Byard cautioned it was still the start of a slippery slope.
LGBT nonprofit Lost-n-Found Youth opens second Atlanta-area store
LGBT youth homelessness organization Lost-n-Found Youth opened its second metro Atlanta area thrift shop earlier this month.
The new store is located off Jimmy Carter Boulevard in Norcross. Like its parent store, the Norcross shop will accept and sell donations of furniture, housewares, dishes, pots, pans and pretty much anything else. The nonprofit obtained the store after its previous owner needed to find someone to take it over.
The deal was sealed once Lost-n-Found board members reviewed donation receipts and realized they already had a large number of people in the Norcross area who donated to the Atlanta thrift shop.
“The Gwinnett store will provide us with the opportunity to reach out into a new market and offer increased convenience as a North Metro area donation center,” said Lost-n-Found Youth Executive Director Rick Westbrook in a news release.
Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner’s memorial service took place at Ebenezer Baptist Church on May 7. (Photo by Patrick Saunders)