Poll: 57% of Georgians Support Medical Marijuana


(APN) ATLANTA — Peachtree NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) and Georgia NORML released the results of their statewide poll on marijuana reform and a majority of Georgians polled said “yes” to marijuana in every category.



The phone survey was conducted by Public Policy Polling on January 6 and 7, 2014.  The poll asked 783 Georgia voters six questions.



The first question was, “1. If you or a loved one suffered from a serious illness and your physician suggested that the medical use of marijuana could alleviate suffering, would you want it to be legally available for you or your loved one’s use, or not.”  



57 percent of the 783 people polled said they supported medical marijuana.  33 percent did not, and 10 percent not sure.



The second question was about decriminalizing, although not legalizing, marijuana.



“2. Under current Georgia law, it is a criminal offense to possess a small amount of marijuana, and it comes with a sentence of one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.  Would you support or oppose a change in the law to make it a civil, not criminal offense to possess an ounce or less for personal use, punishable by a fine up to $100, but without jail time?” the poll asked.



62 percent support ending criminal penalties for marijuana.  32 percent oppose, and five percent were not sure.



The third question was about reducing the penalties for marijuana possession.



“3. Under current Georgia law, possession of more than one ounce of marijuana is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in state prison and a $10,000 fine.  Would you support or oppose lowering the punishment for possession of more than one ounce?” the poll asked.



60 percent support lowering the punishment.  32 percent oppose lowering the punishment and 7 percent not sure.



The fourth question was whether to completely legalize marijuana in Georgia.



“4.  The voters in Colorado and Washington changed their laws to allow marijuana to be regulated similarly to alcohol for adults 21 and older.  Would you support  or oppose changing Georgia law to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol where stores would be licensed to sell marijuana to adults 21 and older?” the poll asked.  



54 percent support regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol.  41 percent oppose and 5 percent are not sure.



The fifth question was, “5.  If a candidate supported marijuana reform, would that make you more or less likely to vote for that candidate in the next election, or would it not make a difference?”



29 percent said they were more likely to vote for a marijuana reform candidate.  34 percent said they were less likely to vote for a marijuana reform candidate.  29 percent said it would not make a difference.  Eight percent were not sure.



The sixth question was, “6. Hemp, a type of marijuana plant, is grown around the world, and is imported into America from other countries.  Would you support or oppose allowing Georgia farmers to legally grow hemp as a cash crop to make fuel, paper, oils and numerous other industrial products?”  



67 percent support hemp growing in Georgia.  25 percent oppose and eight percent were not sure.



The demographics of the survey are as follows: 53 percent women, 47 percent men; 37 percent Democrat, 43 percent Republican, and 20 percent Independent/other; three percent Hispanic, 65 percent White, 27 percent African-American, and 5 percent other; nine percent 18 to 29 years; 24 percent 30 to 45 years; 47 percent 46 to 65 years; and twenty percent over 65 years old.



“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,” Sharon Ravert, Executive Director of Peachtree NORML, said in a press release.



As previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, State Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) has introduced a resolution, SR 756, Senate Prescription of Medicinal Marijuana for Serious Medical Conditions Study Committee.



State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) plans to introduce legislation this year to help people with medical problems to have safe access to medical marijuana.



“There have been over twenty thousand studies done on cannabis throughout the world and we have seen the [CNN] documentary by Dr. Sanjay Gupta called WEED. …..There is growing support under the Gold Dome… the issue is mainstream and supporters are in the majority,” Ravert said at the press conference.



“50 percent of people polled are seniors and Republicans, women were more supportive of  decriminalization (60%), while men were more supportive of full legalization (59%),” Ravert said.



Peachtree NORML, Georgia CARE, and others delivered 15,000 petitions in support of marijuana law reform along with the statewide poll to Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle  and Speaker of the House David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge).



“I am a caregiver for a family member who has severe chronic arthritis in his spine, neck, and knees from a motorcycle accident 30 years ago.  He has been on strong medication for ten years, mostly opiates.  He is in bed quite a bit and has walked very little.  He has gone through every type of medical treatment, injections in his knee and spine,” a caregiver at the press conference told APN.



The caregiver wanted to remain anonymous because medical marijuana is illegal in Georgia.



“We asked his doctor, if maybe we should move out of state to get medical marijuana to help him.  The doctor told us he approved of it [medical marijuana] and thought it was a good idea to use it.  He did not agree on smoking it but he recommended we use a vaporizer,” the caregiver said.



“Through word of mouth, we got some medical marijuana and tried it and it was very successful and my family member is now walking every day now,” the caregiver said.  “Our big fear was liver damage from acetaminophen [in the pain pills].”




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