Georgia has been a focus of the news lately. It seems all the media organizations and both political parties are talking about the Peach state non-stop. And if there is a publicized trial, there will be even more focus on the state. But what about Georgia and marijuana?
The state of Georgia has seen some small changes in cannabis laws in recent years, although it still has strict regulations in place. This despite more than two in three Americans (68%) supporting legalizing marijuana. Only 10% of the country thinks it should be fully illegal. According to an Atlanta Journal Constitution poll in 2020, at least 53% of state residents believe cannabis should be fully legal, and the number increases for medical marijuana.
On his last campaign website for Governor, Kemp said he is not “in the camp of being pro-recreational marijuana.” His stance is a barrier to the public will.
In April 2015, low-THC cannabis oil (rich in cannabidiol, or CBD) was legalized for medical use in the state under HB 1, the Haleigh’s Hope Act. Since then, Georgia has medical cannabis but you must be diagnosed with one of the following conditions to receive a Medical Marijuana (Low THC Oil) Card:
- Cancer, when such diagnosis is end stage or the treatment produces related wasting illness or recalcitrant nausea and vomiting
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, when such diagnosis is severe or end stage
- Seizure disorders related to diagnosis of epilepsy or trauma related head injuries
- Multiple sclerosis, when such diagnosis is severe or end stage
In 2019, Governor Brian Kemp signed a law allowing a limited number of private companies to manufacture cannabis in Georgia. The law, known as the Georgia’s Hope Act, permits the use of low THC products for medical purposes. Under this law, only six producers are allowed to cultivate marijuana
Georgia voters have sent a marijuana message to state lawmakers, approving a ballot measure on Tuesday that expresses their support for adult-use cannabis legalization. State Democratic party leadership placed nine non-binding advisory questions on the primary election ballot to help inform the legislature on where Georgians stand on various issues, including legalization.
Several bills were considered in 2023 to decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis for adults, but none of them were able to pass through the legislative process.
Currently, possession of one ounce or less of cannabis in Georgia carries a maximum penalty of up to one year of imprisonment. More than 40,000 Georgians are arrested each year for marijuana possession
Hopefully the national and global attention placed on the Peach state will encourage a rethinking of Georgia and marijuana laws. And as they are the center of news, maybe there will be a reassestment about Georgia and marijuana since they are going to need to chill!