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Opinion: Why Georgia’s Cautious Approach to Marijuana Legalization Makes Sense

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By Dave Oedel

Georgia’s legislators have gotten some heat from advocates for marijuana legalization for not having gone farther than the nine categories of ailments for which an oil distillate of marijuana will now become legal in Georgia. Allen Peake, a Macon-Bibb delegate to Georgia’s General Assembly, led the effort to pass Haleigh’s Hope Act, H.B. 1, this session. Some commenters, though, have taken the legislators to task for not having done more.

The bizarre postures that some states find themselves in after rushing into relatively wholesale legalization of marijuana, however, suggest that Georgia was wise to take a relatively cautious approach.

Consider the case of Massachusetts, which provided by referendum in 2012 for the creation of marijuana dispensaries around that state. Massachusetts has subsequently proposed other provisions for opening the floodgates to marijuana use there – often with editorial support from the Boston Globe.

That’s why the logic of the Boston Globe’s editorial of April 9, 2015 was so ironic. In arguing for sparing the life of Dzhokhar Tsarneav, found guilty of all 30 counts charged in the Boston Marathon bombing, the Globe reasoned, “Tsarnaev was 19 at the time of the bombing; he was apparently a heavy drug user; he had no prior criminal record.”

What was the drug that Tsarneav used so heavily that might excuse his terrorism, according to the Globe’s logic?

It was none other than marijuana, according to various reports about the case. For example, as Dzhokhar’s friend Ashraful Rahman said, “[Y]ou have to remember – he [Dzhokhar] was a stoner. He was really into marijuana.”

If, by the heavy use of marijuana, one might arguably be excused for murderous, unapologetic terrorism, then caution in marijuana’s legalization makes sense.

Georgia’s legislators were right to take a moderate path to legalization at this juncture, waiting for more information about the impact of marijuana’s legalization in Georgia and other states experimenting with the subject.

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