AJC poll: Expand medical marijuana in GA but not for recreational use

Georgia’s limited medical marijuana law should be expanded to allow growers to harvest and distribute it in-state, a new Atlanta Journal-Constitution polls has found, although there is not support to allow the drug’s recreational use.

The poll shows 71 percent of the state’s voters continue to be comfortable with an in-state cultivation model, with strict controls on who would be allowed to grow and distribute medical marijuana. That’s nearly the same as last year, when an AJC poll showed 72 percent support for the idea.

More than half, however, nixed the idea of legalizing the drug for recreational use.

Georgia lawmakers in 2015 allowed a very limited form of medical marijuana, saying that as long as patients and, in the case of children, families register with the state, they may possess up to 20 ounces of a limited form of cannabis oil to treat severe forms of eight specific illnesses, including cancer, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

Proponents believe the law should be expanded to include more treatable illnesses and view an in-state program to grow and cultivate cannabis for medicinal purposes as a “home run” scenario.

It’s an uphill battle, however. Gov. Nathan Deal and law enforcement advocates have opposed any type of expansion without a corresponding move by federal officials to ease restrictions and reclassify the drug. President-elect Donald Trump, in the meantime, has nominated someone for attorney general — U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. — who has been a fierce critic of the drug.

Still, the architect of Georgia’s law, state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, plans to push for broader access during the upcoming legislative session which begins Monday. The poll results, he said, should speak volumes.

To see more of what the poll found, including voters’ feelings on casinos, “religious liberty” efforts and allowing guns on college campuses, read our premium story by clicking here or logging on to myajc.com. And to dive into our numbers and methodology, click here to check out this nifty interactive page of the results.

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