Why Isn’t Georgia Voting on Cannabis Legalization?

We’ve received questions from supporters asking why Georgians don’t see anything on the ballot about cannabis legalization in 2016. You’ve also asked what has to happen in order for Georgians to be able to vote on these issues.

We are so glad to hear these questions! They are the exact questions anyone who wants to see legal reforms should ask, and we’re here to answer them.

The answers, which we have explained below, are why we do the work that we do, and why we need your support.

Below are answers to these questions along with explanations so you can understand exactly how things work in Georgia. We’ve taken some of this info from Ballotpedia, which is also a good source to check out for political info on Georgia and elsewhere.

Q: Why isn’t there anything on the ballot about cannabis legalization?

A: Because Georgia legislators decided against including it on the ballot.

In Georgia, “the legislature can put a proposed amendment on the ballot upon a two-thirds majority vote in both the legislative chambers.”

This means the Georgia State Senate and the Georgia State House of Representatives must both vote on including the amendment on the ballot. AND at least two-thirds (2/3) of both chambers must approve the decision in order for it to be included.

The voting does not rely upon a simple majority of 51% but a “supermajority” rule of two-thirds. That means 120 votes in the House and 38 votes in the Senate.

Q: What about the ballot measure that was proposed in 2015?

A: The ballot measure did not pass both chambers in 2015. It was not reintroduced in 2016.

Senator Curt Thompson of District 5 introduced Senate Resolution 6 on November 24, 2014. This submitted the ballot for consideration in the 2015-2016 session. It did not pass both chambers and was not reintroduced after its failure to pass.

It can be reintroduced again, but it will require support from more legislators to pass.

Q: What about Washington, D.C.? They petitioned to vote on the issue.

A: Georgia’s constitution “does not currently allow for any form of citizen initiated ballot measures, so all ballot measures must be referred by the legislature.”

The District of Columbia allows for “citizen initiated ballot measures.” This means if enough citizens sign a petition in support of an initiative, the issue will be placed on the ballot and it does not require the legislature’s approval. The legislature still has the power to introduce ballot measures but citizens can bypass them and force the issue to a vote.

This is a powerful form of direct democracy. However, it is not something that is allowed in Georgia’s constitution. This means it is not an option for cannabis legalization.

Instead, one or more Georgia legislators must sponsor the ballot measure in order for it to go to a vote in the two chambers. Then, each chamber must vote in support of the ballot measure (at least 2/3 as described above) in order for it to be included on the ballot on election day.

This means Georgia must approach things differently than Washington, D.C. and hey, we’ve been doing things differently for years!

Q: So – what do we do to see a ballot measure for cannabis legalization in the future?

A: We have to lobby Georgia legislators of both parties, in the House and the Senate, to make them understand the majority of Georgians support reform and want to vote on a ballot measure.

Beyond that, we have to elect representatives who are ready to support this issue.

This is where the Georgia CARE Project and our partners come into the picture.

It is our job to talk with legislators in both chambers and explain the merits of these legal reforms.

We advocate for these issues on your behalf. As part of our #40DaysCampaign, we want to be present for all forty days of the legislative session. Legislators need to hear our message on cannabis legalization every single day. You can support that initiative by pledging to support a day or more of lobbying.

We will help organize Georgians to reach out to their representatives to let them know we want to see change. This shows them we want representatives who understand how important this issue is for the future of our state.

We have also recently launched a City by City initiative to push forward cannabis legalization reform on the local, city level across Georgia.

Marijuana Decrim Rally at Athens City Hall

The rally hosted by Georgia C.A.R.E. Project and the Athens C.A.R.E. affiliate drew 25 protesters to send a message that Athens-Clarke County can decriminalize less than one ounce of cannabis by using citations rather than arresting “offenders”. Georgia C.A.R.E. Project director James Bell spoke later that night before the mayor and commission meeting.

Dates Set for Georgia H.E.M.P. Tour

Georgia C.A.R.E. Project announces dates for H.E.M.P. Tour October 2015 (Hemp End Marijuana Prohibition). More dates to be announced. Want to host an event in your town?

Help End Marijuana Prohibition – Georgia H.E.M.P. Tour 2015

September 30 – 7:00 pm– 3rd Anniversary Georgia C.A.R.E. Project
Mellow Mushroom -Peachtree St. – Live Music “The Daily Miracle”
Pay your way – Donations Accepted – T-Shirts $10.00

October 11 – 11:00 am – Atlanta Pride Parade – Host LP of GA
Civic Center MARTA Station – Step Off 1:00 pm
FREE – Bring Banners/Signs Supporting Legalization

October 12 – 1:00-3:00 pm – GA. C.A.R.E. Project Fundraiser – Host, Liberty America
“Athens Pizza” 1341 Clairmont Road Decatur, GA 30033
$25 Unlimited Pizza, Salad, Soft Drinks

October 19 – 6:00 pm – GCSU / Campus / Area Affiliate Meeting
Meet-Up – Organize – Network (TBA)
231 W Hancock St, Milledgeville, GA 31061

October 24 – 4:00 pm – Athens Ga. Meet-Up – Host, Athens C.A.R.E. Project
295 1/2 E Broad St, Athens, Georgia
Live Music – Speakers – Network

October 27 – 6:00-9:00 pm Hogansville / LaGrange / West Point Meet-Up
Hunter’s Bar & Grill 1875 East Main Street Hogansville, GA
Pay your way – Donations Welcomed

October 28 – 5:00 – 7:00 pm – U. of West Georgia / Carrollton (TBA)
1601 Maple St, Carrollton, GA 30118

October 29 – Kennesaw State University (TBA)
1000 Chastain Rd, Kennesaw, GA 30144