Georgia CARE Responds to Marijuana Poll

Picture of Georgia Capitol Gold DomeAtlanta Georgia:  The number of Georgians supporting marijuana law reform is growing according to a recent poll conducted by Landmark/RosettaStone. The poll asked “Do you support or oppose Georgia loosening its laws governing the possession and consumption of marijuana? Thirty three percent (33%) said “YES” with nearly ten percent (9.6%) expressing “NO OPINION”.

These numbers are encouraging according to James Bell, director of Georgia CARE (Campaign for Access, Reform & Education) a marijuana law reform advocacy group.

Georgia CARE launched a public awareness campaign in 2012 to educate citizens, media and lawmakers as to why Georgia should investigate reforming its antiquated and detrimental marijuana laws that can land a person in state prison for up to ten (10) years for mere possession of more than one ounce (28 grams) of marijuana.  The campaign has prompted numerous online and newspaper polls and public debate.

Bell cautioned that “Liberty and justice should never be determined by an opinion poll. We must look at these laws and determine what we have actually accomplished by arresting, prosecuting and spending tax dollars to go after otherwise law abiding citizens,” Bell said. Nearly 40,000 marijuana arrests occur each year in Georgia.

Bell also cautioned that this one-question poll may not indicate the actual views of the public, especially with the issue of medical marijuana. He said various polls have indicated the public supports medical marijuana and cited a little known fact that the Georgia legislature unanimous passed a medical marijuana research act in 1980 that acknowledged medical benefits from the plant.  Eighteen states (18) and the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana bills and two (2) states, Colorado and Washington, have decriminalized “recreational use”.

“The best way to determine support for marijuana reform is to ask your friends, neighbors and associates their opinions,” according to Bell. Georgia CARE receives numerous emails and phone calls everyday from people in all walks of life encouraging their efforts to change Georgia’s laws.

Georgia CARE’s position is that marijuana should be regulated like alcohol and tobacco and points to the 18th Amendment (alcohol prohibition) as an “ugly scar on our Constitution” that seemed popular at the time until women, clergy and doctors took to the streets and began to educate the public of the negative impact prohibition had on society. Opinions changed and the amendment was repealed.

“Georgia lawmakers are currently engaged in reforming Georgia’s criminal justice system and marijuana law reform should be part of this discussion”, said Bell. “This indicates a shift in attitudes among Georgia’s lawmakers. “

Georgia CARE applauds Gov. Deal and the General Assembly’s efforts to study law reform and CARE is seeking legislative support for study committees to look into how Georgia can responsibly reform these laws.

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