Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Poll: 62 percent of Georgia voters want to decriminalize marijuana

Posted By on Wed, Jan 22, 2014 at 10:57 AM

Youve got some fans, you plant
A recent statewide poll suggests that the majority of Georgians want to end criminal sentences for men and women carrying less than an ounce of pot.

The Georgia affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, commonly known as NORML, found that 62 percent of state voters polled favored the change. Peachtree NORML and Georgia NORML are currently working with advocacy groups like the American Civil Liberties Union to amend marijuana laws.

"Marijuana prohibition is a wasteful and destructive policy," said Peachtree NORML Executive Director Sharon Ravert, "It is time for our state to catch up with public opinion and find a more sensible solution to the status quo."

If jail time for marijuana possession gets nixed, Georgians caught with pot would only receive a $100 civil fine. In 2010, the Federal Bureau of Investigated reported that more than 32,000 Georgians were arrested for possession, the sixth highest total in the country.

The poll comes at a time when some activists, including parents of children living with illnesses, are urging the state to revisit its long-dormant medical marijuana program that was passed in the early 1980s. Some state lawmakers are open to the idea. However, they've pushed back against the idea of decriminalizing or legalizing the plant. State. Sen Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, who helped raise attention about the issue, has introduced legislation calling for a study committee to hear from experts about medical marijuana's potential benefits.

David West, a criminal defense lawyer and lifelong member of Georgia NORML, thinks that now that the people have spoken, it is up to the General Assembly to make the necessary changes. West says he has regularly seen families split across the country to get cannabis oil for kids suffering from epilepsy and college students lose their HOPE scholarship over a joint.

"Families should not have to go to other states to get medicine for their kids," West says. "The argument for [the legalization of] medical marijuana is becoming overwhelming."

In addition, more than half of Georgia voters favored the legal consumption and sale of marijuana for adult over the age of 21, similar to the 2012 legalization in Colorado and Washington. They similarly supported the legalization of medical marijuana, though Ravert acknowledges the complex issue "could take years to process."

Decriminalization of marijuana could be NORML's golden ticket as Georgia could enact it immediately, advocates argue, providing protection to medical patients who do not have time to wait around.

"This is not about getting high," Ravert said, "this is about protecting sick people and everyone else from arrest." NORML and the ACLU are set to host a lobby day today at the Capitol and deliver 15,000 signatures and poll results to the governor.

Tags: , ,

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

Latest in Fresh Loaf

More by Kelsey Gay

The Ultimate Doughnut Smackdown
The Ultimate Doughnut Smackdown

Search Events

Search Fresh Loaf

Recent Comments

© 2016 Creative Loafing Atlanta
Powered by Foundation