Atlanta, GA – While a newly released poll found that over half of Georgia voters support a marijuana legalization policy similar to that of Colorado and Washington (54%), that same report found that even larger majority supports decriminalization. 62% of respondents believe that the state should remove criminal penalties for possession of less than one ounce of pot, and replace it with a $100 civil fine, without the possibility of jail time. Only 32% were opposed. Interestingly, 56% of seniors, and republicans respectively, were among that nearly two-thirds majority.
The poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP) was commissioned by state affiliates of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Georgia NORML, and Peachtree NORML. Said Peachtree NORML’s Executive Director Sharon Ravert, “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.” Peachtree NORML and other advocacy groups are working with lawmakers and various state coalition groups to amend Georgia’s criminal marijuana laws. In 2010, some 32,500 Georgians were arrested for violating marijuana laws, according to the FBI. That is the sixth highest total of any state in America.
Also of note, only 9% of respondents were millennials. This demographic is known to be overwhelmingly supportive of this issue, but the limited pool show great support among other age groups. 71% of those questioned were between the ages of 30 and 65 which shows that older generations, who are more likely to vote, are also strongly in favor of marijuana law reform – particularly decriminalization. It is clear that this sentiment reaches across all party lines, age groups and races, proving that there is widespread support for marijuana law reform in the traditionally conservative state of Georgia.
“Though it may be surprising to some, these numbers are consistent with a growing trend of support for reform in the south,” said NORML’s Outreach Coordinator for the southeastern region of the country, Sabrina Fendrick. Recent polls conducted in Louisiana and Oklahoma both show a majority of support (56% and 53% respectively) for a change in the law providing for a $100 fine without jail time for those who possess an ounce or less of marijuana. Said Fendrick, ”Everywhere you look you will see more and more people dissatisfied with the strict penalties associated with current marijuana laws, and an ever growing number of southerners are ready for a sensible alternative to existing policies, including decriminalization.”