Legalizing Marijuana: Should Georgia Do It?

The Ga. C.A.R.E. Project will hold a press conference Monday at the Georgia state capitol to announce its agenda regarding Cannabis saying that now is right time to focus on the state’s antiquated marijuana laws.

Today’s Midtown Patch Question of the Day takes a look at the idea of legalizing marijuana in Georgia. On Monday, a new push to reform Georgia’s marijuana (Cannabis) laws will kick off as lawmakers consider criminal justice reform measures.

The Georgia Campaign for Access, Reform & Education or Ga. C.A.R.E. Project, will host a press conference at the Georgia state capitol Monday at 11 a.m. to announce the campaign’s mission. A project of the Georgia Taxpayers Alliance, founders James Bell and Ron Williams have supported and advocated for law reform for 25 years.

Bell said this is the first time in the 25 years Georgia has considered law reform legislation and the time is right to focus on the state’s antiquated marijuana laws.

“We applaud Gov. Nathan Deal and the legislature for their courageous efforts to reform ineffective and costly laws we can no longer afford to sustain”, Bell said. In a news release. “Decades of “get tough on drugs” legislation has cost taxpayer billions and has done little to solve real crime problems.”

The Georgia C.A.R.E. Project’s agenda will focus on a four point plan to;

1. Establish a special study committee to focus specifically on marijuana laws;
2. Reschedule the classification of marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II or lower;
3. Modernize Georgia’s medical marijuana access laws to allow for legal medical marijuana by doctor prescription or recommendation;
4. Decriminalize a personal use amount to eliminate prosecution and incarceration;

Ron Williams, a reform activist, said 18 states have allowed medical marijuana and two state have now legalized personal use amounts.

“Those states have led the way to show that we can decriminalize and medicalize marijuana and bring this substance under regulation and control without affecting public safety and save taxpayers dollars. It’s time to focus on this issue.”

The campaign has set up an educational website and Facebook page to connect with the public, media and lawmakers.

 Earlier this month, a crowd of hundreds gathered to light up joints under the Space Needle in Seattle as recreational marijuana use officially became legal in the state of Washington.

A similar scene is likely to unfold on the streets of Denver in a couple of weeks as Colorado’s marijuana legalization law goes into effect.

In Washington, it is now legal for people to possess up to one ounce of the drug, which is illegal in most states, including Georgia. While the new state law in Washington doesn’t usurp federal laws that criminalize marijuana use, local cops are no longer going to give people age 21 and up a hard time for lighting up a joint in the privacy of their own homes. The public display at the Space Needle technically remains illegal, but police in that state decided to let it fly on the morning pot smoking became legal there.

Cops in Washington seem to be taking a rather nonchalant approach to the new state rules, too. The Seattle Police Department has issued some interesting directives to its officers.

Police spokesman Jonah Spangenthal-Lee is quoted on the Huffington Post as saying, "The police department believes that, under state law, you may responsibly get baked, order some pizzas and enjoy a `Lord of the Rings' marathon in the privacy of your own home, if you want to."

He also quoted the cult classic film "The Big Lebowski": “The Dude abides, and says `take it inside!' "

Colorado’s law goes into effect on Jan. 5. Washington state, the Post says, anticipates the new law will bring millions of dollars into the state’s coffers as regulations begin to go into place.

While lighting up a joint at home – or in public – remains illegal in Georgia, we’d like to hear your thoughts on the issue Midtown. Do you think our state should look at decriminalization? Should the federal government review its own laws? Share your thoughts in the comments section.


About this column: The Midtown Patch Question of the Day is an occasional column that features local, state or national news that we want to get Midtown Patch reader's take on.

JM Hurricane December 20, 2012 at 02:15 AM
Get some cheetos and cleaning products......
chad teague December 20, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Its time to end a war that prevents people from being adults putting something into their body for medical or just recreational use . The Gov has no place in someones health choices or their recreational choices . The Gov has become more of a control freak than a body that simply Governs the people of a so called free nation . Its more than time its over due time to end this war . Things like this war is what keep people in poverty because they are listed as criminals and cant get decent jobs because of background checks. Some would say o just do not do it! well next time you sip some wine with your wife/husband you think at one point wine would have been in the same war. Until the Gov. seen the tax money that could be made from the sale, the people stood up and said no more can we allow our Gov. to destroy our familys. Alcohol is why we have NASCAR it is used in medication it has been a big money maker for this country in many many ways and created several jobs over the years in todays time alcohol is seen as a normal way to wind down relax and share romantic moments with friends ,family and our spouse . I support the change in the law it is what is wise for this country to end this war that simply is nothing more than a rouse.
Strings December 22, 2012 at 06:56 AM
JM, the problem with this is that phase 1, 2 and 3 testing costs HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of dollars. Marijuana, being a plant, cannot be patented. Thus, those hundreds of millions of dollars would only serve to guarantee that your competition could get a license as easily as you could. No pharma company in their right mind would do this.
JM Hurricane December 23, 2012 at 06:43 AM
You're making my point perfectly. Two wrongs don't make a right. Alcohol does destroy families when abused. Hence, don't legalize another destructive substance. Marijuana, does create dependancy if used for extended periods of time.* There are withdrawal symtoms similiar to that of opiates, increased schizophrenia, depression, insomnia, irritability, etc.* Furthermore, uncontrolled GMO cannabis is extremely powerful (5-10 times normal THC levels) and a huge growing problem in the cultivation process.* Increasing THC levels by genetic modification is happening and can lead to serious brain, liver & cns damage with hallucinogenic side effects.* People do get DUI/DWI from marijuana/drugs if you're blood/chemical tested. In fact, DUI marijuana/drug charges have increased in states that legalized medical cannabis.* Nobody, knows the long term effects of GMO marijuana. Ironically, earthy toker types run fast from GMO food products and GMO fed meats yet when it comes to weed "BRING IT ON" is the motto. Go figure. * DEA confiscation tests and AJ of M, sourced.
Ms. December 23, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Legalize it, regulate it, tax it, same with prostitution. Put corner pimps and drug dealers out of business. Btw, America is the number one of importer of hemp in the world, because states can't figure out how to tell the difference between growing hemp and pot (2 different processes.) Let's help American farmers grow a product that could feed and clothe billions all over the world.
Nia December 31, 2012 at 06:36 AM
I think it is about time to legalize weed people are more focused on locking people up for smoking weed because they violated probation or smoking in there car but here we have kids buying guns off the street scouring each other lets make jail a place for a more serious drugs or for killers and child abusers. Have you ever heard of something going wrong from people smoking a joints besides for nothing but peace and love in the room I agree you should be over 21 to smoke just like buying alcohol stop wasting space in these jails and prisons over weed lets do the right thing.
JM Hurricane December 31, 2012 at 07:09 AM
Hey maannn, way brah, mega wedatude, like way, brah.
Chris dattilo January 01, 2013 at 12:30 PM
JM Hurricane...why don't you grow up brah??? Stop w/the the stereotypes and use that thing between your ears called a brain and quit drinking the kool-aid given to you by the entities that want to keep it illegal. The ONLY reason people with a rational thought process would want to keep it illegal is because of MONEY. PERIOD . EVERY point that has been made so far in the above comments clearly shows the positive effect legalization would have for society ...dude, like get a brain- man
Jeff K January 01, 2013 at 04:04 PM
Chris, don't feed the troll. Look at JM's comments here and in every other article he comments on. Somebody's parents need to monitor their children's internet activity a little closer.
mike walker January 03, 2013 at 12:49 AM
IT is great to see most of the peoples comments great thinking now we just need to make the goverment do whats right STOP LOCKING UP POT USERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
adam green January 03, 2013 at 10:42 PM
I think they should make it legalize in the entire USA! For many reasons to make the economy better and to make the sick feel better yo u can even make useful items as well !
Michael January 04, 2013 at 07:18 PM
Portugal legalized pot years ago and they are very happy. Health experts in Portugal said Friday that Portugal's decision 10 years ago to decriminalize drug use and treat addicts rather than punishing them is an experiment that has worked. "There is no doubt that the phenomenon of addiction is in decline in Portugal," said Joao Goulao, President of the Institute of Drugs and Drugs Addiction, a press conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the law. The number of addicts considered "problematic" -- those who repeatedly use "hard" drugs and intravenous users -- had fallen by half since the early 1990s, when the figure was estimated at around 100,000 people, Goulao said. Other factors had also played their part however, Goulao, a medical doctor added. "This development can not only be attributed to decriminalization but to a confluence of treatment and risk reduction policies." Portugal's holistic approach had also led to a "spectacular" reduction in the number of infections among intravenous users and a significant drop in drug-related crimes, he added. A law that became active on July 1, 2001 did not legalize drug use, but forced users caught with banned substances to appear in front of special addiction panels rather than in a criminal court. http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5g9C6x99EnFVdFuXw_B8pvDRzLqcA?docId=CNG.e740b6d0077ba8c28f6d1dd931c6f679.5e1
Zack Reynolds January 05, 2013 at 10:45 AM
I really hope they make this legal soon, because I can't take it anymore..
Jeff K January 05, 2013 at 03:38 PM
Exactly. We do it backwards here. If we took all that prohibition money and focused it on EDUCATION and REHABILITATION we would get somewhere. But of course, that's "change" and everybody claims they want change but they're deathly afraid of it.
mike barnes January 06, 2013 at 03:15 AM
Thats the problem with this country to fast to do things wrong and so slow to fix the mistakes and admit they were wrong.By doing away with all the drug laws the way they are cost so much money and what gives the goverment the right to tell any one what they can or can't put in their body's I am sure most people know when a drug is making life bad for them and this country is suposed to be free
Michael Howard January 26, 2013 at 12:31 PM
The way I see it, the fastest way to get the bill to be looked upon as a serious matter is to simply look and speak in terms of the money. I am not saying that Georgia as a state are greedy, what I simply mean to say is that while legalizing it will save millions, if not billions, it will, at the same time, earn an extra few millions (or perhaps billions) in tax revenue. This will also allow further research on Marijuana which in turn will allow for all the medical purposes to be explored. I give credit to Washington state for its move to legalize recreational use and suit the laws according to it as the same as drinking. To me, this is exactly how it should be looked at, drinking is far worse then Marijuana but to be on the safe side, I think that smoking it should be looked at the same as drinking. I do not think anyone should be allowed to operate machinery or drive or even go to work while affected by Marijuana but I do think we should be allowed to partake while in our own home. Save money spend on a prohibition that has clearly failed, save lifes and prison space and at the same time, make this a very very rich state by taxing the hell out of it. *Michael Brandon Howard
Chase February 05, 2013 at 10:54 PM
I have seen the destruction alcohol can cause for a family. My best friend. His father is an alcoholic. His sister is anorexic with bad anxiety and OCD. His mom is struggling to keep the family together. He often has to keep his father from hurting his mother and sister. My other best friend smokes marijuana. Daily. His dad smokes daily. His stepmom smokes. Daily. That house has no violence. The only problems there are his parents think he's messing with other substances. He is very smart. He has also been smoking weed consistently since eighth grade. An he got a 2200 on his SAT. So which causes more problems?
matt February 08, 2013 at 05:36 AM
I am glad that common since about marijuana is coming into play. All the years of propaganda is finally coming to an end. Legalize it and save us taxpayers money, should have never made it a crime in the first place, after all it was George Washingtonian main crop.
TLane February 11, 2013 at 05:13 PM
People move up to more dangerous drugs BECAUSE/ AND ONLY BECAUSE when they go to buy weed they are offered other drugs. If people had a legal and safe way to buy weed then the term "gateway drug" would no longer apply to weed. Pot smokers don't go looking to find a stronger drug.
R Morgan February 18, 2013 at 03:49 PM
Typical,Hurricane. I'm disappointed in you though, i'm certain if I knew you, I would expect it.
TheTruth February 20, 2013 at 10:33 PM
Theres scads of people that use pot that go to the gym and the park; they are everywhere and go everywhere.
Kite March 03, 2013 at 06:28 AM
Its kind of sad really to see what our tax money is going to. In my most humble of opinions it really should be legalized. One thing that I hav noticed is that most people would probably stop selling it illegally because it would not be illegal any more. Its a sort of idiotic mentality that people take the " I feel like a badass because i'm doing something illegal." mentality. Washington has legalized it why not here. It certainly would cut back on the people standing on a corner going "hey you want to buy some weed?". Because actual dispensaries would be able to get it to consumers much cheaper than the street sellers ever could. Just give it a 10% tax and let it be. Just saying ~From a nonsmokers perspective~
Michael March 03, 2013 at 01:01 PM
Portugal legalized drugs and started treatment programs for offenders ten years ago, as noted in my previous comment above. Their holistic approach also had a side effect of reducing violent crime and drug related infections.
John Smith March 28, 2013 at 08:24 PM
I believe that marijuana should be made legal for the fact that I have severe pain everyday from an automobile verse motorcycle accident 17 years ago and the only thing that helps my pain is marijuana. I guess I am immune to every medicine due to the fact that I was on a morphine drip for 8 months and because a BC powder works better for me than an oxycotin 80 does. I have tried the marijuana pill and it did nothing for me, whereas if I smoke a joint the pain subsides tremendously, so my vote is to legalize marijuana. We also could tax and regulate it so it would help in the long run so why not legalize it.
mike barnes March 31, 2013 at 09:35 PM
GA as a state is just not ready to do any thing that is right for the people they would rather spend money locking people up than to let some one live in peace.
Diana stapleton April 21, 2013 at 06:18 AM
Give the people in ga a chance to live happy and let them have weed it is very relaxing and make it law for your home only
RICKY WHALEY October 27, 2013 at 01:33 PM
at least give GA the chance to vote on this . thats all im asking for
RICKY WHALEY October 27, 2013 at 01:39 PM
i just think if people would look around or ask any teen they want if a teen wants to smoke weed they all ready are drug dealers do not id nor do the only sell weed they only looking to make a buck at any cost to others if we legalize regulate it it will be harder to get and parents can step up and be parents again this is a lot better then getting a life long record for just getting caught with weed at an early age and being screwed for life on the job market or any other thing one trys to do . PLEASE THINK ABOUT THIS NOT FOR ME OR FOR SMOKING WEED DO IT FOR YOUR KIDS.
Keny Cortes November 01, 2013 at 08:20 PM
Please legalize, this is not a dangerous drug. and its great for the star wars movies and .99 cent menu!!!!! Amen....
Karen OathKeepers Moody-Stephens January 01, 2014 at 05:39 PM
Georgia really should legalize marijuana. I personally don't smoke marijuana, but support it's legalization. Criminalizing it has done nothing but cost us millions of dollar's per year. It's also placing people who are responsible citizens in jail unjustly and playing a huge part in over crowding the jails. I have always supported gov Nathan Deal, and I trust he will legalize marijuana use in Georgia.


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