Is Marijuana Legal In Georgia
A bill that would make marijuana legal in Georgia has been introduced. But, if passed, will it become a reality?
While the rest of America is still debating whether or not to legalize cannabis for recreational use — and some states are even considering outright prohibition — there’s at least one state where weed is already fully legalized.
This year, a new bill was introduced into the legislature, which seeks to make it so pot can be legally purchased and sold within the borders of Georgia (GA).
The bill would make Georgia the first southern state with full-on legalization if passed by both houses. You need to know how this impacts residents and those who live elsewhere in the country who want to try out the same policy next door.
What Is It Called
Dubbed “Georgiapot,” HB 87 calls itself the “first comprehensive statewide legislation regulating commercial production of industrial hemp.” In contrast, it may sound like an oxymoron (“hemp” being illegal); the proposed law does not mention THC content but instead focuses on growing hemp without damaging the environment.
It wouldn’t matter if your bud had high THC levels because, under its guidelines, anything over 0% could be considered “industrial-grade” hemp.
According to the bill’s text, anyone guilty of knowingly selling low-quality cannabis products could face up to $100 per violation.
When writing this article, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal hasn’t yet signed off on the bill. However, he recently expressed his support for decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana, which indicates he won’t necessarily veto it.
Several years ago, Deal said he favored legalizing medical marijuana. However, when pressed further on the issue during a debate last month, he stated that while he doesn’t think we should criminalize marijuana usage, he does not support legalization.
So why the sudden change of heart? According to him, research shows marijuana isn’t nearly as harmful as other drugs, nor is it much more effective than prescription painkillers. He also thinks people shouldn’t ruin their lives just because they made mistakes.
However, most importantly, perhaps, he wants to win re-election. Given the current political climate, it seems unlikely that any pro-pot reform measure will pass through the Republican-dominated General Assembly. But with Democrats currently holding a slim majority in the House, things might start looking up come 2020.
How Will This Affect You?
As mentioned before, under the provisions outlined in Georgiapot, individuals caught smoking weed in public places throughout Georgia could face fines ranging from $75-$100. In addition, those caught smoking outside private property could receive jail sentences of between 30 days and 12 months, depending on the severity of the offense.
But once again, the bill’s primary focus is ensuring growers aren’t harming the environment. Under the proposal, only licensed farmers would be allowed to grow these crops, meaning many communities don’t stand to benefit from increased revenue streams from legal sales.
Since the bill intends to keep prices relatively uniform across all parts of the state, consumers will likely see little difference in pricing compared to nearby states that prohibit marijuana growth.
For instance, according to Leafly data, a gram of black market bud costs roughly twice as much ($3) in Alabama than in Georgia ($1.50).
On top of that, since retail outlets would be limited to certain cities until regulations are implemented, local businesses will undoubtedly suffer due to a lack of demand. Some areas may even see shortages in supply.
Lastly, although possession remains illegal, police officers do not have the authority to search someone’s home unless there’s a warrant issued against them. That means cops couldn’t enter your house without probable cause to look around and check for evidence of drug trafficking. But, of course, they’d have to get a judge’s permission first.
The good news is that, unlike alcohol, cannabis cannot kill you right away. Still, it may take hours or days after consumption before severe symptoms set in. According to the National Organization of Drug Users (NODU), the following list contains the three significant signs of overdose: nausea, vomiting, slurred speech, slow breathing rate, cold skin, shallow breathing, weak pulse, convulsions, hallucinations, dilated pupils, weakness, extreme drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth, urinary incontinence, muscle spasms, coma, unconsciousness, stupor, unresponsiveness, seizures, violent tremors, unusual excitement, hyperactivity, confusion, impaired coordination, irritability, loss of balance, disorientation, tremor, incoordination, difficulty performing simple tasks, trouble speaking, chest tightness, wheezing, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, excessive sweating, fast heartbeat, fainting, shock, irregular heartbeat, intense anxiety, abnormal behavior, agitation, irritability, trembling hands, tachycardia, flushing, nervous system disorders, clumsiness, problems urinating, involuntary movements, red eyes, blurry vision, diarrhea, constipation, flatulence, drooling, chills, fever, weight changes, abdominal cramping, appetite changes, sleepiness, fatigue, dehydration, decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, nightmares, paranoia, panic attacks, perspiration, insomnia, mood swings, depression, memory impairment, slowed thinking, severe allergic reactions, hallucinations, delusions, delirium, psychotic episodes, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, uncontrolled hypertension, stroke, liver disease, kidney failure, diabetes insipidus, respiratory distress.
Should We Be Excited About This?
Absolutely! I’m thrilled to learn that legislators in my hometown of Atlanta are working hard to ensure that everyone in Georgia gets equal access to safe and affordable cannabis products grown locally.
This move will help bridge the economic inequality among our city’s neighborhoods. Currently, poorer folks tend to rely on cheaper sources of income, including buying illicit substances, instead of job hunting.
Lawmakers hope to create jobs, increase tax revenue, and provide safer alternatives to dangerous street dealers by eliminating the price barriers associated with purchasing cheap buds.
It’ll undoubtedly allow us to explore new ways to improve health outcomes in underserved communities. For example, black Americans die disproportionately from opioid overdoses daily, while studies show cannabinoids may reduce inflammation linked to cardiovascular diseases. There’s room for improvement in improving patient care and treatment options.
Most importantly, however, this initiative will finally grant citizens freedom from the fear of arrest simply for using something millions of others choose to partake in responsibly.
So What Does The Future Hold For Cannabis Reform In Ga?
We’re hopeful that Georgiapot becomes law soon after the Senate and the House Judiciary Committee vote on it. Then, the bill moves onto committees before eventually hitting Gov. Deal’s desk, where he may sign it into law or veto it.
Regardless of what happens, advocates involved with the movement behind Georgiapot, known collectively as the Coalition for Rescheduled Drugs (CRD), will continue pushing forward similar reforms in neighboring states.
Remember that if you are arrested, never say yes when the cop asks if you’ve ever used marijuana. Instead, politely decline the offer and ask to call your lawyer immediately.
Also, consider bringing along a friend who knows exactly what you need before heading to the station for booking. A sober companion may be able to bail you out before you end up spending another night in jail.
And if you live near a border town, don’t forget to cross over to whatever state allows weed to be consumed recreationally. Remember, Colorado became the latest state south of the Mason-Dixon line to legalize weed in 2014. Who knows how long it’ll take Georgia to catch up?