A Totally Rad Perspective on Pot Laws in Georgia

I have to appreciate the clickworthyness of the link Stefan posted in his Morning Reads yesterday about “parents pushing for legal marijuana in Georgia”. The WSB headline makes you think parents are seeking the help of legislators to keep their perfect suburban golden children out of the county probation office. The article actually deals with medicinal uses for sick children suffering from seizures and genetic disorders but it does bring into question where Georgia will fall in terms of likelihood to change marijuana laws.

Statute reform surrounding marijuana has been a hot topic in the news with new studies released almost daily and a CNN poll from just a few days ago showed 55% of people in favor of legalization of marijuana and 44% against. Another poll of Georgians in 2013 showed yet another increase in support of legalization, which often surprises many. I would argue that some people don’t know what exactly they are answering as they don’t know the difference between decriminalization- which reduces and reclassifies penalties- and legalization, which obviously removes penalties all together. Overall, though, the trend, as seen in this pretty chart, is on the upswing towards legalization.

In Georgia, metro Atlanta counties especially have a huge problem with the over-criminalization of pot. Certainly no one wants a tri-state trafficker for a neighbor but another growing trend is in the support for alternative sentencing for first time and youthful offenders in the court systems. The disgruntled attitude toward the mandatory minimums and the cost on state and local governments to enforce some of the regulations is no longer a minority thought. This Ricochet article sums it up best:

Marijuana prohibition is like every other prohibition: it drives up costs, creates black markets, and criminalizes trivial behavior( emphasis added). This prohibition feeds an increasingly Kafkaesque, asset-forfeiture-driven, militarized police system, and takes up tens of thousands of prison beds that could be occupied by violent offenders. It costs billions in state and federal enforcement programs with an abysmal price-to-punch ratio.

The far right has vehemently opposed any type of decriminalization in other states but yet, they are surprisingly quiet as each state implements less stringent laws and the predicted catastrophic events simply don’t happen. The same far right also forgets that, coupled with the ideas from Ricochet, the prohibition of something doesn’t exactly project the idea of small government and personal responsibility.

So, back to Georgia. Is Georgia ready for medicinal uses of marijuana? As a state, are we open-minded enough to decriminalize minor drug offenses? Can we see past the social stigma and see the big government we are creating? And more importantly, can staunch social conservatives handle the legalization of a substance that will literally make the Earth stop spinning? Certainly some of the folks we elect, or re-elect, in the upcoming statewide elections will gauge where we are on the spectrum. The problem for advocacy groups, whether they be Liberty, small government or just pro-420, is finding a legislator who will put their name on it. The one who does will be on the chopping block with a few extreme(ly loud) organizations for quite a while.

Medical use, decriminalization or legalization: when answering ‘Where does Georgia fall in considering changes to marijuana laws’, I would have to say ‘the bottom’.


  1. Jon Lester says:

    This parent group is specifically focusing on cannabinoid oil for treatment, which is both medically promising and something that would need to be made by licensed professionals, of course, so that’s what we have to remind people of when opponents get hysterical (and they will). Politically, I think quite a few conservative-leaning (liberty-minded) Georgians have had their fill of authoritarian statists on the right.

  2. Rick Day says:

    Georgia NORML, Peachtree NORML and Georgia Moms for Marijuana have partnered to produce a new poll from Public Policy Polling on various questions regarding the use of marijuana and hemp.

    We feel the questions from the previous poll were too ambiguous for people to understand the ramifications of their answers. Our poll, coupled with the timing of events in the State of Colorado, will hopefully phrase the argument in a way that makes more sense.

  3. Noway says:

    Legalize it ALL. Tax it ALL. Period. Make the entire USA “Amsterdam South.”
    For those not strong enough not to get addicted, open treatment centers. Alcoholics Anonymous always did need a baby brother. How ’bout DAA? Drug Addicts Anonymous. To go along with Gamblers Anonymous, Sex Anonymous, etc….
    Monetarily, state and federal tax coffers would swell to the brim with revenue.
    Gateway Drug? Schmateway Drug! If parents aren’t “parenting” well enough to influence their kids to be responsible, tough. Kids are already drinking and doing drugs. It’s the “cool” thing to do, don’t you know. Happens with every generation. To quote Bob Dole, “I know it, You know it, the American People know it!”
    And finally, freedom works every time its tried. Just get out of the way. We do not need any more of the pathetic Nanny State than we already have.

  4. Three Jack says:

    Thanks Jessica for the post making it a front page topic.

    I watched Morning Joe today as he repeatedly stated ‘the more you smoke the dumber you get’. Not sure of his source for that other than gathering anecdotal evidence within the confines of MSNBC studios, but his attitude probably reflects that of many who have seldom if ever inhaled. And that is one of the biggest problems going forward, convincing voters that pot is not a mind numbing hallucinogenic drug.

    Georgia as one of the original states to pass a medicinal marijuana law should be in a good position to move quickly if someone under the gold dome grows a pair. From what I recall, we simply need to form a commission/board or something akin to that in order to establish guidelines for implementation and distribution.

  5. Jackster says:

    I never understood why a proven treatment for making a patient eat and sleep was illegal.

    It seems to me those are the two things you want them to do the most.

  6. drjay says:

    medical marijuana should really be a no brainer—we had cocaine in the pixys when i was an er nurse back in the day…frankly i would not have a huge problem with recreational use if there were a quantitative test for it, unless there is something new i’m unaware of, right now a piss test for pot is either + or – it does not say how much is in your system or give any indication of when it may have been used. this would create a legal nightmare for things like accident investigations and workman’s comp claims and business liability issues as they worked through whether someone had gotten high over the weekend and still had some pot in is system or had gotten high at lunch before he wrecked that fork lift…for instance…

  7. Neptune says:

    Just read this article. How enlightening.

    Charlie, now I know why you just deleted my comment on another article. Georgia will be on the bottom because it’s much more lucrative to sell an illegal drug. Again, I could provide some more statistics, but I’m sure that would be deleted as well. The “it’s illegal to have it” or “I’m not supposed to do this” creates an intense desire in a person’s mind (especially a person with the psychology of addiction).

    It’s like the popular Reba McEntire song:

    “Why Do We Want What We Know We Can’t Have……..????”

    • seenbetrdayz says:

      Murder is illegal but I’ve never really felt an intense desire to kill someone.

      Having wrapped up a term as a grand juror, I can say that polls are one thing, but when you are in the position of actually indicting someone for having possession of a plant, it really puts things in perspective about how senseless prohibition is.

      Our days in session were spent bouncing back and forth between murder cases and pot possession. One moment you’re hearing about a guy who pulls a gun out and shoots someone, or a rape case, and then the next moment you’re hearing about a few college kids caught with 1.1 oz. of weed. It didn’t take long before my fellow jurors were all in agreement that half of our day is wasted on petty nonsense which shouldn’t be felonies. This is in GA, mind you. Not one person in that room was waving any banner for prohibition. Even the ‘old farts’ in the room had to admit that in the decades since marijuana prohibition was enacted, drugs are more readily available today than when they were ‘young farts’.

  8. saltycracker says:

    Medical marijuana is a bureaucratic baby step toward legalization. Get on with it. Legalize it, control it, tax the poo out of it. The tax money and resources can be put to better use by redirecting our judicial and healthcare system. With money left over to address Deal’s concerns with helping prisoners return to the population.

    Of course the selection at confiscation auctions won’t be so good…..

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