A majority of Georgia voters believe that the adult use of marijuana should be legal and regulated, according to the findings of a statewide Public Policy Polling survey commissioned by Georgia NORML and Peachtree NORML.
Fifty-four percent of respondents endorsed "changing Georgia law to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol." Forty-one percent of respondents opposed the idea. The totals are similar to nationwide percentages reported earlier this month by CNN, which found that fifty-five percent of Americans favor making cannabis legal for adults.
Fifty-seven percent of those Georgians surveyed supported making cannabis legal for medical purposes only, while 33 percent opposed doing so.
By a margin of nearly 2 to 1, respondents supported decriminalizing marijuana possession offenses. Sixty-two percent of voters supported amending state law to make the offense a civil violation "punishable by a fine up to $100, but without jail time." Over a dozen states impose similar fine-only sanctions for minor cannabis possession offenses. Thirty-two percent of voters endorsed maintaining existing criminal penalties.
Under present law, marijuana possession is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one-year incarceration and a $1,000 fine. In 2010, an estimated 32,500 Georgians were arrested for violating marijuana laws, according to the US Federal Bureau of Investigations. The total is the sixth highest of any state in America.
"The citizens of Georgia agree, marijuana prohibition is a wasteful and destructive policy," said Peachtree NORML's Executive Director Sharon Ravert. "It is time for our state to catch up with public opinion and find a more sensible solution to the status quo."
Nearly 800 Georgia voters participated in the poll, which possesses a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent.