62% of Georgia Voters Support Ending Criminal Penalties for Marijuana

Over Half Support Legalizing It For Adults

Atlanta, GA- A new statewide poll shows that 62% of Georgia voters endorse eliminating criminal penalties for possession by adults of less than one ounce of pot, and replace it with a $100 civil fine, without the possibility of jail time. Further, more than half of all Georgia voters now support regulating the legal consumption and retail sale of marijuana for those age 21 and over. In 2012, voters in Colorado and Washington approved similar regulations in their states.

The poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP) was commissioned by state affiliates of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Georgia NORML, and Peachtree NORML. “The citizens of Georgia agree, marijuana prohibition is a wasteful and destructive policy. It is time for our state to catch up with public opinion and find a more sensible solution to the status quo,” said Sharon Ravert, the organization’s Executive Director.

Peachtree NORML and other advocacy groups are working with lawmakers and various state coalition groups to amend Georgia’s criminal marijuana laws. In 2010, some 32,500 Georgians were arrested for violating marijuana laws, according to the FBI. That is the sixth highest total of any state in America.

Fifty-seven percent of voters supported legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. State lawmakers have indicated interest in studying this legal option. Ravert welcomes the discussion but believes that “this issue [medical marijuana] is complex,” and that the process could take years. “Decriminalization, which received the highest level of support among those polled is a policy that could be enacted immediately and would provide legal protection to not only patients but those unfairly targeted by the current policy. This is not about getting high, this is about protecting sick people and everyone else from arrest using a harm reduction strategy with public safety as a top priority.” The organization has found support for medical cannabis as well as regulations models from several elected officials.

In order to continue raising awareness for this issue, NORML affiliates around the state have teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia to host a lobby day at the state

capitol on January 21st 2014. A press conference will begin at 1:00 pm, on the Washington Street side of the capitol. Immediately following the press conference, the coalition plans to deliver 5000 signature and their recent poll results to the Governor.