Photo by Tyler Meuter

If you have not heard, the Georgia Senate is voting on a bill that would allow patients with PTSD, HIV-AIDS, chronic pain and other diseases access to medical marijuana. There is another bill in the Georgia House trying to provide further expansions to patients.

Under the current law, Georgia allows patients with qualifying diseases to obtain up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil with a physician’s approval; however, there is no legal way for patients to obtain the drug in-state.

Buyers must order product from producers in other states, creating a significant barrier for patients. Additionally, though THC levels in medical cannabis oil are currently limited to five percent, the new Senate bill will lower the amount to
three percent.

With nine states having legalized marijuana entirely, almost 20 percent of the nation, it is disappointing that such small measures are being taken by the Georgia Congress. Approximately 40 percent of Americans have admitted to using marijuana at least once, so for recreational use to still be a criminal offense is confusing. This is especially true when you consider that marijuana is both less addictive than caffeine and 114 times less lethal than alcohol.

So why does marijuana have such an illegal history in the U.S.? It was legal until 1937, four years after the end of Prohibition. The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 established a significant tax meant to punish marijuana users. The Act, sponsored by prohibitionist Harry Anslinger, was spun to target minorities — specifically Mexican immigrants fleeing to the U.S.

Coinciding with the Great Depression, public opinion of immigrants was poor. Anslinger is even quoted as saying, “Reefer makes darkies think that they’re as good as white men. … The primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.” Anslinger went on to assert that cannabis creates interracial relationships, something he considered obscene. As such, it is upsetting that a ban with such toxic beginnings
has persisted.

Beginning with this tax, conservatives have ever since largely opposed the legalization of marijuana, claiming that it is a “gateway” drug which will lead to further drug abuse. Despite this rhetoric, some 69 percent of people in the U.S. believe that alcohol is more damaging than marijuana. Then, hy is it still  a banned substance?

One of the main reasons for the continued prohibition, particularly at the federal level, is due to the lobbying efforts of organizations such as the Corrections Corporation of America, a for-profit prison company who has admitted to significant business interests in maintaining the war on drugs.

Other interest groups, such as police unions, prison guard unions, alcohol and beer corporations and pharmaceutical companies have spent millions of dollars lobbying against marijuana. As a result, the U.S. has let the business interests of the few impede the freedoms
of the many.

It is, therefore, my hope that Georgia embraces the “small government” mindset of its largely conservative Congress and remove the superfluous government restrictions on marijuana use. Since this is a large step for Georgia lawmakers, at the present, I hope the expansions of medical cannabis oil pass.

If you feel similarly, please call your local senator or house member, and let them know your opinion.

  • Captain Jim

    “Additionally, though THC levels in medical cannabis oil are currently limited to five percent, the new Senate bill will lower the amount to three percent.

    For many serious medical conditions, THC and CBD work together in what’s known as the entourage effect. This has been researched for decades now in places like Israel. The United States is way behind. These laws are not based on science at all. Just stigma.

  • Captain Jim

    Here are the therapeutic effects of THC that these laws are cutting out by severely restricting it:

    Analgesic – Relieves pain.

    Anti-Emetic – Reduces vomiting and nausea.

    Anti-Proliferative – Inhibits cancer cell growth.

    Antioxidant – Prevents the damage of oxidation to other molecules in the body.

    Antispasmodic – Suppresses muscle spasms.

    Anxiolitic – While not fully recognized as an anxiolitic compound THC does seem to assist in the anxiety associated with PTSD.

    Appetite Stimulant – Δ9-THC is the only cannabinoid identified that is an appetite stimulant, giving people the stereotypical “munchies” many users describe.

    Euphoriant – Produces feelings of euphoria, promotes happiness and relaxation.

    Neuroprotective – Slows damage to the nervous system and brain.

  • PhilDeBowl

    The idea of any government, especially one in a so called “Free” Society declaring a plant “illegal” is absurd. The idea that any citizen in a “Free” country need ask permission from the government to use it is ridiculous. The idea of otherwise peaceful citizens being thrown in cages for enjoying it is obscene. Adults should be free to grow what they want to grow, license and regulate all sales.

  • Dwane Anderson

    Minor correction, only eight states have legalized recreational cannabis, unless you count Washington DC, but that’s not really a state.

    While all the special interest groups mentioned do support continued criminalization, the key group that is the real problem is the DEA. They are the one organization who’s primary job is to fight against recreational drug use. Legalizing cannabis would be undermining their own jobs, so it’s not surprising that they aren’t supporting it. They are also the organization that controls the scheduling of illicit drugs, creating a huge conflict of interest.