ATLANTA - Supporters of legalizing marijuana declared Thursday Cannabis Day at the state capitol.
They are lobbying Georgia lawmakers to take action similar to the 18 other states that have legalized medical marijuana. They want local leaders to study the issue.
“We believe the time is now for looking at the marijuana issue and come up with some solution other than putting people in prison for smoking a joint,” said James Bell, with the Georgia Care Project.
A so-called Cannabis quilt was on display in front of the state Capitol. It was made by the group Moms for Marijuana, featuring patches with facts, figures and designs representing the states where medical marijuana is legal.
Supporters compared smoking a joint to drinking a glass of wine. They said legalizing the drug would also free up a lot of prison beds for hardened criminals and give much-needed medical relief to those suffering with painful diseases.
“Marijuana is not toxic. You can't overdose from it and it's far less dependent than drugs like OxyContin. It should be the first thing that people with serious illnesses are given the chance to try,” advocate and radio talk show host Russ Belville said.
Some also argued young marijuana smokers are getting arrest records needlessly.
“We are advocates for protecting our children,” Moms for Marijuana member Sharon Ravert said.
She said her 19-year-old daughter was arrested after drug agents searched her home for three hours and found one-and-a-half grams of pot.
“Two years and all kinds of lawyers and $15,000 later, we have spent all of the money that we had saved for her to go to college,” Ravert told Geary.
But it appears Georgia isn't ready for legalized pot. Bell told Geary two lawmakers promised a bill this year to set up a study committee on the issue, but that bill has yet to be filed. He wouldn't reveal the names of the lawmakers because it is such a sensitive topic.