When Georgia voters head to the polls for the primary election next month, they will get a chance to decide on a marijuana legalization question.
The state Democratic party leadership placed nine non-binding advisory questions on the ballot this year, with the hope of gaining perspective on what issues voters care about most to inform legislative policy priorities.
One of those questions asks:
“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?”
While the results of the vote on May 24 won’t immediately change state law, a strong showing in favor of legalization will demonstrate to elected officials that there is support for the reform, at least among those who vote in the Democratic primary.
“Our ballot advisory questions are one of many ways we engage with Democratic voters ahead of the midterm elections,” Scott Hogan, executive director of the Democratic Party of Georgia, told FOX 5 Atlanta.
Georgia has open primaries, meaning that any voter can choose to fill out the Democratic ballot on Election Day regardless of their party affiliation.
Other questions on the Democratic ballot ask about student loan forgiveness, paid parental leave, free preschool, healthcare and renewable energy. The Republican ballot, meanwhile, doesn’t have a cannabis question but will 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 have 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 recently 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.
Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.