ATLANTA, Ga. (Feb. 2, 2018) – A bill filed in the Georgia Senate would legalize marijuana, setting the foundation to nullify federal cannabis prohibition in effect in the state.
Senate Bill 344 (SB344) was introduced by Sen. Curt Thompson (D-Norcross) with five co-sponsors on Jan. 23. The legislation would allow adults 21 or older to purchase up to an ounce of marijuana. Disobeying the rules and regulations for possession and distribution of marijuana would still be punishable by a misdemeanor criminal charge. Local communities could ban retail marijuana stores and cultivation facilities under SB344, and specific rules regarding licensing would be determined at a later date by state regulators.
“It would bring in an incredible amount of additional tax revenue at a time when we’re in desperate need of that for both education and roads,” Sen. Thompson said about a similar bill that he filed in a previous legislative session.
Despite the federal prohibition on marijuana, measures such as SB344 remain perfectly constitutional, and the feds can do little if anything to stop them in practice.
Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the feds maintain complete prohibition of cannabis. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
Legalization of marijuana in Georgia would remove another layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana, but federal prohibition will remain on the books.
FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By mostly ending state prohibition, Georgia essentially sweeps away most of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.
A GROWING MOVEMENT
Cannabis oil is currently legalized for medical use in Georgia. Passage of SB344 would further ignore federal prohibition and nullify it in practice in the state. Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska were the first states to legalized recreational cannabis, with California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts joining them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization were passed in those states in November 2016.
With 29 states allowing cannabis for medical use as well, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition anymore.
“The lesson here is pretty straightforward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.
SB344 was referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee where it will need to pass by a majority vote before moving forward in the legislative process.