When it comes to legalization of marijuana, over half of the country has legalized medical marijuana in some form. One of the states where access to legal cannabis is the most restrictive is Georgia, where a small expansion to a CBD-only medical marijuana law was passed last spring. Things have a slim chance of changing this year, though, as Senator Curt Thompson introduced a bill that would legalize cannabis for use by (and to be sold to) adults 21 and older, regulating the herb like alcohol.
“The historical trends and the political trends nationally, and even here in Georgia, are on our side,” state senator Curt Thompson, D-Tucker, said.
SB614 is a short and very bare-bones bill that is only two pages long. It does not specify things like tax rates, whether there will be provisions for home grows, regulations for cultivation facilities, producers or dispensaries. It’s a very simple bill that would determine the fate of cannabis in Georgia at the hands of voters if passed by both the State Senate and the House of Representatives.
“If you used the Colorado tax rates and then just correcting for population, you know, assuming it’s going to be heavier use or less use here in Georgia than in Colorado, you end up bringing about $340 million dollars a year just in tax revenue,” Thompson said.
Though no tax rate was specified, it would leave legislature to determine these issues if Georgia voters approved the bill in the mid-term election this November. By modeling it similarly to Colorado, Thompson has already come up with a ballpark figure for what the state could bring in from a legal cannabis industry – and has also thought about where to spend those extra funds.
Thompson’s suggestion would be to spend 50 percent on transportation – including mass transit and fixing roadways – with the other 50 percent going to the Hope Scholarship. However, right now he also knows that the chances of the bill making it to voters this fall is unlikely, but support for the measure is growing and Thompson wants recreational cannabis to be an open discussion moving forward.
“When I first started this, I was the only sponsor. There’s now six sponsors on the retail bill. There’s about 17 or 18 on the medicinal marijuana statute,” Thompson told Richard Elliot, reporter for WSB-TV2.
With support growing nationally each year, by the time this bill makes it to the ballot in Georgia, it stands a chance of passing. If voters do get their say on legalizing cannabis in Georgia this year, recent polls suggest that 50 percent are in favor of adult-use legalization, with only 46 percent opposed and about 3 percent undecided.