Georgia High: Why I Oppose Decriminalizing Marijuana

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Columnist says "No" to "yeah baby!"


Contemplate the following scenarios: if you knew with certainty that the pilot of the 757 jumbo jet you were about to board was high on marijuana, would you get on that plane?

If you believed that the surgeon who was scheduled to operate on you had been smoking marijuana the night before, would you actually go through with that surgical procedure? If you had any idea that the driver of the school bus waiting curbside to your front yard was a regular user of mary jane, would you allow your son or daughter to climb on that bus?

I’m guessing, but I’m thinking your answers to those three questions would be “Absolutely not,” “No way,” and “Are you kidding?”

If you answered anything other than approximations of those things, you’re most likely a fan of marijuana. If you’re a fan of marijuana, then you’re hoping that the great state of Georgia joins the club – the growing number of American states which have already legalized marijuana or are actively considering doing so. You actually want Georgian high society.

Let me be clear. I’m not talking about medical marijuana. For our friends and neighbors who are dealing with terminal illnesses like cancer or leukemia, medical marijuana has been scientifically proven to help ease the ravishing effects of chemotherapy on the human body. Let’s exclude these folks from this particular conversation.

I’m pretty sure that I personally know people who get blazed. I don’t condemn them for doing so. I don’t smoke marijuana. I’m actually allergic to the stuff. That’s the primary reason I can only attend gospel and jazz concerts. Every other concert genre will have some in attendance smoking cannabis. For me, one single person doing so is one too many.

Currently, 23 states have decriminalized marijuana. In alphabetical order, here are the members of that club: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin. The one state you should keep your eye on from this list is Florida. If our neighbor to the south has legalized marijuana, you can be sure that the wheels are turning to do the same thing here.

The main reason we’re not hearing about the Peach State considering the decriminalization of marijuana is because we’re in the stretch run of tightly contested Senatorial and Gubernatorial races here. Once those races have been decided, you can expect to hear our state legislators talking about potentially joining those chanting “how high.”

The one positive aspect of decriminalizing marijuana is right-sizing and reducing the criminal penalties for people arrested with marijuana in their possession. The Department of Justice has been vocal and active in championing this cause. Until the last year or so, an individual with more than an ounce of marijuana was given the same prison sentence as an individual caught with 3 kilos of cocaine.

Until recently, someone with marijuana clearly intended for personal use was viewed by the criminal justice system the same way as someone with enough illicit drugs to traffic or distribute commercially. The old “war on drugs” mentality – the notion of one legal size fits all – was itself an injustice. It kept American prisons filled to capacity for decades, but did virtually nothing to make our streets safer or stop the flow of drugs into the U.S.

There are plenty of negative aspects to decriminalizing marijuana. Drunk drivers threaten everyone else on our streets, highways, and interstates on a daily basis. High drivers would be just as deadly. No one can deny the lost productivity workers who smoke marijuana would have on industry and in business. There is mounting empirical evidence to suggest that some high-end marijuana (no pun intended) can be addictive to certain people. So society now discourages cigarettes and endorses joints? Are we ready for marijuana’s inevitable effects on academics and athletics in our schools? Precisely how would local municipalities and states enforce the concept of personal use? Short answer: they can’t.

I completely understand the desire of American states to get creative in raising revenues and avoiding budgetary shortfalls, but is this really the best way of achieving those goals? Have the elected officials in high society states taken the time to consider all the pros and cons of legalizing weed? In my mind, the answer is a no with echoes. Recklessly making this drug legal just so it can be taxed by states is akin to slapping the marijuana leaf icon on their state flags.

Georgia’s entry to the league of high society states would not be crisp or clean.

I’d love for Georgia to be acknowledged nationally for more than peanuts, peaches, guns, and good football. I say no to high society here. What say you?


Editor's Note:  The editors invite readers to post their comments to this columnist's position directly online or submit it to for publication

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