Georgia voters have sent a marijuana message to state lawmakers, approving a ballot measure on Tuesday that expresses their support for adult-use cannabis legalization.
State Democratic party leadership placed nine non-binding advisory questions on the primary election ballot to help inform the legislature on where Georgians stand on various issues, including legalization.
The marijuana measure was leading by a strong margin of 80 percent to 20 percent on Wednesday morning, with 95 percent of counties having completely reported their votes—accounting for a total of 649,487 ballots counted so far.
Here’s the language of the ballot question voters were asked:
“Should marijuana be legalized, taxed and regulated in the same manner as alcohol for adults 21 years of age or older, with proceeds going towards education, infrastructure and health care programs?”
The results of the vote don’t immediately change state law, but it stands to reason that the strong showing in favor of legalization underscores to elected officials that there is support for the reform, at least among those who vote in the Democratic primary.
Georgia has open primaries, meaning that any voter was able to fill out the Democratic ballot on Election Day regardless of their party affiliation.
Other questions on the Democratic ballot asked about student loan forgiveness, paid parental leave, free preschool, healthcare and renewable energy. The Republican ballot, meanwhile, didn’t have a cannabis question but it did give people a chance to weigh in on a Mexican border wall, the right of transgender people to participate in sports and social media censorship.
Meanwhile, reforms to the Georgia’s limited medical cannabis program advanced in both chambers this session but fell short of final passage.
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Back in 2018, South Carolina Democratic primary voters were similarly asked to share their stance on medical cannabis legalization at the ballot. More than 80 percent responded that they support enacting a policy change to let patients access marijuana.
Outside of the ballot process, Minnesota House lawmakers have surveyed residents about adult-use legalization as part of the State Fair Poll. Most recently in 2021, 58 percent of respondents said they back the reform. That was a modest increase compared to the chamber’s 2019 survey, which showed 56 percent support.
Back in Georgia, there has been some movement on psychedelics policy in the state, with lawmakers advancing a bipartisan resolution that calls for the formation of a House study committee to investigate the therapeutic potential of substances like psilocybin and make recommendations for reforms.
Senate Democrats in the state tried to enact a bill in 2020 that included provisions to decriminalize low-level cannabis possession, but it did not advance.
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