Georgia Legislators Out-of-Touch With Constituency

What’s A Straw Poll?

For those that don’t know, a straw poll is an unofficial ballot conducted as a test of opinion.  On 5/22/2018 the question above appeared as the first local question on the Democratic ballot for Forsyth County, Georgia.  “Should Georgia amend the state Constitution to legalize the use of cannabis/marijuana for those 21 years old and older, allow a retail dispensary base, tax said products, and allocate revenue received equally to state education and transportation infrastructure?”

The results are non-binding in any way.  It was just a question to “test the opinion” of the voters.  Well, the voters spoke, and the results are pretty amazing, though not all that surprising.

4996 (a whopping 77%) answered YES
Only 1471 answered NO

Did I mention that a whopping 77% answered YES?

Marijuana On An Official Ballot in Georgia?

How’d that happen?  I reached out to Melissa Clink, who currently chairs the Forsyth Democratic Party and asked that question.  She told me, “Our election board officials asked about a month ahead of elections if we wanted questions on our ballot. These questions take the temperature of voters and in my opinion alert elected officials how their constituents want them to vote on such matters.  I believed marijuana legalization was a high priority question in Georgia”.

Clink said that there was some initial resistance from within the party, although support for medical usage was unequivocal.  As is the case with many citizens in Georgia, some believed Georgia had a viable medical marijuana program and were unaware of some of the hypocrisy in that program.  Clink explained that Georgia has a non-functioning medical use law that does not include in-state growth or access to medicine and that “we need to know how voters feel about outright legalization so that our elected officials can legislate according to the will of the people”.  The question was added to the ballot.

Did I Mention That A Whopping 77% Answered YES?

I bring that up because according to the latest Quinnipiac poll 63% of the Nation favors legalization.  The folks in Forsyth County, Georgia obviously favor it more than that.  Even the Republican Party there is saying they wish they’d asked that, and other, questions.

Catherine Bernard, a liberty-loving criminal defense attorney said: “[this] matches up with my jury selection experience in Forsyth where almost everyone raised their hand when the prosecutor asked who thought it shouldn’t be against the law to have MJ!”

The Heroin Triangle and Education

Forsyth County is in Georgia’s “Heroin Triangle”, and this may have some bearing on why this county ranges 14% higher than the national percentage.  I’m sure they’ve been paying close attention to the growing evidence that marijuana is an exit from opiates, not the gateway.

While the percentage of folks that want marijuana legalized in other Georgia counties may not be quite as high, we know that the majority of citizens want this.  We knew it in 2014 when we had a telephone poll done and over 50% of those polled were for full legalization.  That percentage has grown immensely over the past 4 years.

Why Georgia, Why?

So the questions become, “Why aren’t Georgia Legislators listening? Why aren’t more of them vocally supporting in-State cultivation for medical purposes?  Why aren’t they getting on board with decriminalizing possession of one ounce or less?  Why is it necessary to arrest more than 24,000 people a year for possession?”

Take Action!!

Contact your legislators during this recess.  Reach out to them on their home turf.  Call, write, email.  Express your support for more rational marijuana laws.

Contact your Republican and Democratic Party Chairs.  Discuss a straw poll with them.

“When we are talking, we are winning”.  Sooner now, than later, they will have to listen to us.  The tide is turning in Georgia.

About Author

Tom McCain is a retired Air Force Veteran and retired Georgia Peace Officer. He retired from law enforcement as the Chief Deputy of Johnson County. Tom actively advocates for the reform of Georgia's Criminal Justice System and its Draconic marijuana laws. On 4/17/2017 he was named the Executive Director of Peachtree NORML.

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(4) Comments

  1. Rocky Eades

    I would hope that at least some of those who said “NO” did so because they object to the notion of balancing the government’s budget on the backs of marijuana users, producers and distributors. That would have been the way I would have answered it.

  2. Anonymous

    Hell yeah

  3. Seamus

    I am a 43 yr old male who has been disabled with horrific chronic lower back pain due to an injury at work 14 yrs ago. I have had 12 back surgeries which have left me w/ more pain instead of getting better. I am currently taking 250 mcg Fentanyl every 48 hrs w/ little pain relief.

    I write all this to ask when our legislatures are going to finally listen to the voters and let us vote on real Medical Cannabis opportunities, unlike what we currently have which offers no Ga cultivation or ability to purchase legally from a dispensary. I am forced to take opiates, which no longer work due to tolerance, w/out another alternative! Even my pain management Dr. tells me that Cannabis would greatly improve my pain and quality of life.

    Wake up politicians and do the correct and compassionate thing and DEMAND that all Georgians’ have access to Medical Cannabis cultivated in Ga. I am a lifelong Republican and I can tell you that most disabled and the elderly want/need access to Medical Cannabis choice. Let us the voters decide!!!

  4. John Thomas

    >>>”“Why aren’t Georgia Legislators listening?”

    After working in marijuana reform for more than 20 years, I’d be surprised if it was a reason much different from the resistance we have always encountered in every state.

    Because police and prosecutors build their careers and empires on the fraudulent marijuana prohibition. Because industries like alcohol and pharmaceuticals don’t want the competition. Because other interests like the drug treatment/testing industry and the prison industries depend on it for their life’s blood. Because many banks and shaky corporations couldn’t exist without the laundered money. Because corrupt politicians, like Richard Nixon, use the insane war on marijuana consumers to oppress and prevent community organizing of minorities and progressive groups.

    The billions of dollars made by drug gangs have not been buried in the ground. They are invested in legitimate business, creating more powerful support of this war on Americans. Add to these all the ancillary industries that sell to or service the above groups, and you begin to understand the enormity of the greed-driven resistance.

    Thank goodness we are overcoming even this massive resistance. – That’s the power of the truth and dedicated, courageous reformers!

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