As Protest, Jackson County Publisher Says He Plans To Grow Weed

Jan 12, 2016

Mike Buffington is going to grow his own weed. 

The Jackson County man said he's fed up with the state's inaction on moving forward with medical cannabis research in the state. He announced his plan to grow marijuana as a form of civil disobedience in a recent op-ed.

 Though cannabis oil is a legal treatment for eight diseases in Georgia, lawmakers haven't agreed on how Georgians can actually get the stuff. 

"I have acquired a pot for my pot, and I've got dirt in it. And I'm just waiting on some seeds and seedlings as well," said Buffington, whose son has suffered from seizures since age 6. Over the last 15 years, his son has tried a a range of unsuccessful medications and been through two brain surgeries.

"He came out of the surgery not being able to speak and not able to write words. It took several months of rehab to clear that up," Buffington said.

State Rep. Allen Peake said Buffington's situation is exactly why he's pushing a bill that would allow a limited number of facilities to produce cannabis oil in Georgia.

"We're forcing citizens to make the tough decision of 'Do I want to break the law to satisfy the medical issues that myself or my child has?' And we shouldn't be forcing them to become criminals," Peake said. 

If passed into law, the bill would also allow the Georgia Department of Health, rather than lawmakers, to approve additional conditions qualifying for cannabis treatment. 

The Georgia Commission on Medical Cannabis voted last month not to recommend moving forward on growing in-state. Gov. Nathan Deal has said he opposes the idea as well, citing law enforcement concerns.

Buffington said other concerns about Georgia complying with federal laws on marijuana production are insincere, given the number of actions the state regularly takes in opposition to Washington. Georgia is currently involved in a number of lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency. Buffington said Deal's recent, unsuccessful attempt to prevent Syrian refugees from resettling in the state is another example of Georgia taking a stand against the feds. 

"It's a pick-and-choose. There's a little bit of hypocrisy there," Buffington said.

Buffington said he's not concerned about getting arrested. He's a publisher at the Jackson County Herald, which his family owns, so he said job security isn't an issue for him even if the police show up. 

Besides, Buffington said, "I've never grown anything like this. And I don't have a green thumb, so I may kill it, but I'm going to give it a try."