A group seeking reform of Georgia’s marijuana laws will head to the state capitol on today, Jan. 14 to begin an educational campaign for its legalization, beginning with medical use of the drug.
James Bell, director of Georgia C.A.R.E., said the marijuana reform coalition wants to start a public discussion on the impact marijuana laws have on the criminal justice system and the public. According to their website, Georgia C.A.R.E. is a project of the Georgia Taxpayers Alliance, Inc. They have a link to NORML, a national group that advocates for the legalization of marijuana, on their website.
Bell said with the Georgia General Assembly studying reform of the criminal justice system and criminal sanctions, marijuana law reform should also be considered.
“You can not talk about reducing the prison population and reforming Georgia’s criminal code without considering reforming marijuana laws”, Bell said. “We want lawmakers to take a close look at the impact these laws have on our state. We have sat on this issue for far too long.”
Each year, nearly 40,000 arrests are made for violations of marijuana laws putting a strain on the criminal justice system, wasting tax dollars and diverting law enforcement resources away from more serious offenses.
The Woodstock Police Department last year had 146 cases that invovled marijuana arrests. For the Cherokee Sheriff's Office, the agency had 298 marijuana-related arrests in 2012.
The first step in reform is to review the medical marijuana law passed unanimously in 1980 by the general assembly, according to Bell. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana measures with no negative impact on public safety.
Georgia C.A.R.E. Legislative Priorities include:
- Cannabis (Marijuana) as a Schedule Substance: Designate cannabis (marijuana) as a Schedule V (5) (O.C.G.A. 16-13-29) substance consistent with the “Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act”, (O.C.G.A. 43-34-120).
- Special Study Committee on Therapeutic Medical Marijuana: Establish a special study committee to examine reforming and expanding Georgia’s medical marijuana laws (O.C.G.A. 43-34-120); allow stakeholder to offer testimony on the issue and make recommendations for legislative reform.
- Special Study Committee on Marijuana Decriminalization: Study the impact of Georgia’s marijuana laws on the criminal justice system and public safety to make recommendations to the Georgia General Assembly concerning law reform.