Athens Human Rights Festival – Marijuana is a Human Right

Georgia C.A.R.E. Project director James Bell will be speaking this Saturday at the 37th Annual Athens Human Rights Festival in downtown Athens GA.

Originally created to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the Kent State murders, the Human Rights Festival is a two-day event dedicated to promoting free speech and confronting issues that challenge human rights. Throughout the festival, activists and members of various community, national and global organizations take to the main stage to discuss important social and political topics. In between speakers, live music performances entertain the festival crowd. As always, information booths line the streets, and children’s activities and youth performances are available for our younger attendees.

The free festival is from 10 a.m.–12 a.m. on Saturday, May 2nd and 2–9 p.m. on Sunday, May 3rd.

James Bell will be speaking on Saturday May 2nd at 4:30 pm. We hope you can attend!

AJC Editorial “Treat Weed Like Wine” by James Bell

Should marijuana be legalized?

National polls show 58 percent now support legalizing and 80 percent indicate support for medicinal marijuana.

This shift in attitude toward cannabis comes after twenty states and the District of Columbia enacted medical marijuana laws and Colorado and Washington voted to legalize.

But what about Georgia? Will Georgia follow suit and reform its harsh laws? Georgia activists say yes, but it will take considerable work to educate the legislature and motivate the public to get more involved. One thing is certain, the movement to reform these laws in Georgia is growing. The legislature will address this issue at some point.

The General Assembly did address the medical marijuana issue in the past. In 1980 Georgia was one of the first states to pass a medical marijuana research act. The law allowed the use of marijuana for cancer therapy and glaucoma. But smoking the federal government’s harsh “ditch weed” was intolerable for many and the pharmaceutical form of THC was more palatable. The program is no longer active. Georgia has lost more than 30 years of medical research and we could have been a pioneer in cannabis therapeutics.

A major factor in the increase in public support for cannabis was the documentary “Weed” by the renowned surgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta. This ground breaking exposé opened the eyes and hearts of millions of viewers to the miracle medicine called cannabis.

On the criminal justice front Georgia has enacted certain law reform measures in an attempt to reduce the number of non-violent offenders in the prison system but has ignored the issue of marijuana laws reform.

Georgia has some of the most Draconian marijuana laws in the nation with penalties up to ten year in prison for more than one ounce. With nearly 30,000 arrests each year the harm done to our citizens by these laws far exceed any real or perceived harm cause by marijuana.

It’s time Georgia treats marijuana more like wine than plutonium. Not only is marijuana prohibition a civil rights issue, it’s also a money issue – tax dollars. The money we spend on arrest, prosecution and incarceration for a commodity that is known to be far safer than alcohol and tobacco, is money that could be redirected to prevent and enforce real crimes against people.

As an activist I am encouraged by the support I am seeing from the public and even legislators are educating themselves about the topic and are seeking alternative policies.

We can kick start the process by having compassion for the seriously ill and allow them access to a relatively safe medicine that has proven to offer relief from suffering. With the legal states engaged in cannabis therapeutics and research, we have just begun to understand what this plant has to offer.

We have drafted legislation and are seeking support. We encourage the citizens to contact their legislator and begin a dialog on this issue.

With marijuana, Georgia should apply its motto – “Wisdom – Justice – Moderation”.

It’s our 1st Year Anniversary – Thanks for your support!

Dear Supporters,

Today we have much to be thankful for. This week marks the first anniversary of the Georgia CARE Project – and it has been a success!

Twelve months ago Ron Williams and I (James Bell) agreed that Georgia Taxpayers Alliance, Inc. should form this project in an effort to move the cannabis reform issue forward. We saw that 20 states (D.C.) have medical laws and two state had just legalized. It was a sign to us that Georgia should be more engaged in the reform movement. We have accomplished many of our short term goals – take a look…

  • A volunteer webmaster who is doing a great job in driving traffic and getting us organized
  • Worked with various organizations in an effort to build a coalition around our issue
  • Lobbied our legislators and secured some support for reform
  • Participated in various public speaking events and forums – conferences / parade / collages
  • Raised enough donations to purchase our basic needs – printing / internet / travel / merchandise
  • Organizing in several cities around Georgia including a collage affiliate at University of Georgia
  • Appeared on several radio & TV programs including Public Radio (WABE) (WRFG) (Cable Access)
  • A donation of a new Desk top PC / folding table / banner

We are so thankful for all the support we have gotten from people around the state, nation and even internationally.

People have donated cash, created graphics, distributed literature, wrote letters to lawmakers, made phone calls, and just emailed us and called to say thank you for what we are doing. You have kept us inspired!

We would like to thank Sharon Ravert and Peachtree NORML for their diligence and help in our efforts.

A special thanks to the legislators who were inspired enough to call us and ask ‘how can we help”. We look forward to working with them and building more support.

What once seems a daunting task now seems very real and achievable. It will not be easy and it will not be done as fast as we want it too. But we are willing to dedicate our efforts for as long as it takes to achieve our goals. We hope you will continue to help us!

Now we are preparing for a very busy 2014. We have the momentum to move forward and set our goals even higher. But we need your help!

We have a big wish list which we must share with you. Take a look…

We need the following:

  • Monthly pledge of $45.00 to cover our internet connection
  • $200 for a new computer monitor
  • $300 will buy a Windows Tablet for showing power point presentations and videos
  • $400 per month (3 months) to cover expenses for lobbying at the state capitol
  • $500 for printing brochures and cards ($500 will purchase 10,000 tri-fold brochures)
  • $1000 will buy a line of merchandise that will raise $3000

These are some of the basic needs. We hope you will consider contributing to one of these project.

While we would obviously welcome a $1000 donation, a contribution in any amount would help tremendously.

Also, we are working to organize in your town. If you are willing to be our representative we will help you get organized and hold your first meeting. We are also available for public speaking and media interviews.

Again, we are thankful we have your support. Without you we could not have accomplish what we have. We hope you have a great holiday season and we look forward to continuing our work in 2014.

Perhaps more importantly, we should not forget those who are incarcerated for marijuana and cannot be with their family and friends this holiday season. It is for them that we continue the fight and for ourselves that we will fight for our given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!  

Are you ready for reform? We can do this!

All the best,

James Bell & Ron Williams

Georgia CARE Project – Campaign for Access, Reform & Education