There is a new proposal to legalize marijuana in Georgia for the entire state. Right now, the bill is going through the State Senate.
When it comes to marijuana, we know attitudes are changing. In October, Atlanta decriminalized small amounts of marijuana in the city, and DeKalb County commissioners announced in January that they are doing the same.
We spoke to a State Senator about the need legalize it statewide.
“To get rid of the gangs, to get rid of the organized crime unit, that is the only way to do it is to do it statewide,” said State Senator Curt Thompson of Norcross.
Thompson and five other Democratic Senators from across the state are backing Senate Bill 614. It would legalize marijuana in the state of Georgia, and regulate the proceeds from its sale, allowing anyone over the age of 21 to purchase small amounts for personal use.
“That is real money that we are simply leaving on the table,” said Thompson.
The potential economic impact would be huge.
“If you use the same tax rate that Colorado has, and then you correct, we are a bigger state,” said Thompson. “We bring in $340 million a year.”
The money would be split equally between education and transportation.
“It would be 50 percent for transportation, which could go to mass transit, or roads, and then 50 percent to the Hope Scholarship,” said Thompson.
Similar legislation proposed by Thompson failed last year, but the bill only had his backing last time.
“When you look at Colorado, it didn’t just magically appear on the ballot…California or Oregon,” said Thompson.
This year things are different. If the bill passes both the Senate and House then it would go on the 2018 November ballot for Georgia voters to decide.
“The ball is moving in that direction and towards that,” said Thompson. “I think that we will eventually be there.”
Thompson says a different bill backed by all the Democratic State Senators would legalize marijuana for medical use.