Cannabis policy continues to advance, slowly
Last update: November 5, 2018
In both 2017 and 2018, the state’s medical marijuana program took major steps in a positive direction. SB 16, which passed in 2017, expanded the list of qualifying medical conditions, which now includes cancer, ALS, multiple sclerosis, seizure disorders, Crohn’s disease, sickle cell anemia, autism (in the case of minors), Tourette’s syndrome, a skin condition called epidermolysis bullosa, Alzheimer’s, AIDS, and peripheral neuropathy. While the law does not address sources and supply of medical cannabis products for patients, SB 16 represented a big improvement. Meanwhile, on May 7, 2018, the governor signed HB 65 into law, adding intractable pain and PTSD for adults.
Although the law does not include any in-state supply of medical cannabis products, fortunately HB 65 did set up a study commission to explore the issue. As of early May 2018, there were more than 4,000 patients enrolled in the program. Voters strongly support these changes to the state medical marijuana law and support the larger goal of making the program fully functional.
Medical marijuana measures aren’t the only ones advancing. In October of last year, Atlanta City Mayor Kasim Reed signed a measure — unanimously supported by the city council — ending the possibility of jail time and lowering fines for those caught with an ounce or less of marijuana to just $75. While the change applies only to Atlanta’s own ordinances and not state law, which could still apply even in the city, it sends a powerful message to state lawmakers and might help bring justice to African Americans in Atlanta who have paid a very high price under marijuana prohibition laws.
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ACLU study shows Georgia’s harsh marijuana laws result in racially disproportionate arrest rates
Georgia has some of the most punitive marijuana laws in the country, with possession of a mere two ounces being punishable by up to 10 years in prison. It’s clear these laws have not been successful, and new evidence shows that Georgia’s laws are not being evenly enforced.
A 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that although blacks and whites use marijuana at nearly identical rates, blacks in Georgia are 3.7 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.
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