- Hammond Lewis
Georgia Coordinating Arrival of Dispensaries
Georgia cannabis patients are legally allowed to possess up to 20 ounces of low-THC oil.
However, there’s a big, obvious problem.
There’s no oil to possess.
In 2015 the state passed a law allowing patients to register as medical marijuana patients, without any infrastructure or ability to access medical marijuana. Since then, it’s been a fight for the arrival of cannabis products, and 6 years later we are starting to see the beginnings of a slow and antiquated legislative process finally come together, albeit lacking some significant patient-focused regulation.
Will Georgia’s attempt at medical marijuana bring a compassionate approach to patients, or will the program fade into the background as a restrictive, unreasonable jab to those suffering from chronic and terminal illness?
Georgia Copies Age Old Strategy from 1937
Georgia has an interesting take on medical marijuana.
6 years of patients registering with the state for a medication that isn’t available, because the state has not approved the medication to be available.
Though they’re not alone, a few states in the South have adopted a similar approach in the past:
Wait, gather intel, wait, research intel, wait, propose laws, wait…
Unfortunately, not only does this approach exclude the lives of people already suffering from chronic and terminal conditions that cannabis is used to treat, it’s actually one of the oldest legislative tricks in the book.
For those who have been around the cannabis industry for some time, this sly maneuver should sound incredibly familiar.
In fact, it’s nearly a copy/paste policy from 1937.
Regulation & Taxes – How the Federal Government Took Over Medicine & Industry
Many may not know that prior to 1937, marijuana was legal in the United States and cannabis was regularly prescribed by physicians for a variety of conditions.
Hemp was grown industrially, and cannabis was used medicinally with very little thought to the plants from the United States government, or any other organization for that matter.
At the time, federal regulation didn’t really exist. Most businesses were left to their own devices to figure out profitability and safety, and this included the pharmaceutical industry and drug manufacturing companies.
Federal oversight was largely nonexistent because the United States was still considered a strong republic of independent states, the federal government’s place was far less engrained in state and local community affairs.
There wasn’t a strong legal ability for the federal government to outrightly ban much of anything.
But in 1914, with the passage of the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act, the feds found a tricky way to limit, tax, and regulate substances without ever technically making them illegal.
Ironically, legislators passed the Act, giving them permission to demand extra monies from prescription manufacturing and sales, and the ability to regulate the opiate industry through a new system.
Once the federal government realized the power of this leverage, they exercised it across industries with a vicious onslaught of regulating, taxing, regulating, taxing, and then… regulating and taxing further, leading to the Volstead Act of 1919, effectively prohibiting the sale and manufacture of alcohol.
Racism, Money, and Power – How the West Started the War on Cannabis
With the federal government’s newfound power over money and industry, the madness continued further when a chain of events sporadically changed the future of cannabis in America.
The violent Mexican Revolution caused an influx of families to flee from persecution in Mexico to the United States, and American media & government found a new common enemy.
At the time, cannabis use was common among immigrants and African-Americans, both groups with massive targets on their backs from a Country that largely regarded them as lesser-than.
Combined with this unnatural hatred, the development of nylon from DuPont saw clear threats from the hemp industry.
William Randolph Hearst shared the same fears, believing his massive fortune in the logging and timber industry would take a hit from hemp.
And Andrew Mellon, the wealthiest man in America & Secretary of the Treasury for the United States, shared those same fears, having a significant investment in DuPont himself.
Together, with the power of racism, money, and control, a new war was waged in America.
The war on cannabis.
The Media & The Government Join Forces – Creating the Propaganda for a New War
Cannabis was still federally legal in 1937, but after the propaganda campaign from the fiber and logging industry, the media couldn’t help but publish every abhorrent, disgusting headline about marijuana and the “crazy” it would cause.
Although now hilarious, fictional films like “Reefer Madness”, “Assassin of Youth”, and “Devil’s Harvest” were taken very seriously in the late 30s and early 40s.
When white families went to the movie theaters and saw young girls turn to deviant sexual behavior, murder, and insanity after smoking just one puff of marijuana, the media made it a national frenzy.
Newspapers ran stories about white fathers smoking marijuana, sending them into fits of rage causing them to murder their families.
Articles about children being sent into uncontrollable spells of psychosis brought on by the unfamiliar weed of blacks and Hispanics ran front page.
The media was full of gross works of pure fiction touted as fact. Writing on how dangerous the plant was to white women especially, reporting that the vile weed would cause them to enter a trance and sleep with blacks and Hispanics.
The level of insanity was high, and the United States government took this opportunity to seize a win in the war on cannabis, blacks, and immigrants.
The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937
In 1937 The Federal Government pulled the trigger on the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, a move that would change the shape of how the government decided for itself the power it could wield.
Instead of federally banning cannabis as an illegal substance, the idea was to create an annual tax stamp that would be administered by the federal government that individuals could apply for, allowing them to purchase, grow, and sell cannabis.
This would effectively make the sale or cultivation of marijuana without an approved stamp, illegal. Unfortunately, there isn’t any great record of the United States approving any applicants for the stamp.
However, there are two important records that show up shortly after the Tax Act, the first marijuana arrest records.
After passing the Marihuana Tax Act, the Bureau of Narcotics arrested Moses Baca for possession of marijuana, the first arrest for marijuana in the Country. Shortly thereafter, Samuel Caldwell was arrested for the sale of marijuana, and both were convicted for not paying the marijuana tax that the government was not issuing. Baca was sentenced to 18 months, and Caldwell received a four-year sentence.
The rest is U.S history, eventually leading to the creation of the Controlled Substances Actand President Nixon’s notable failure, the “war on drugs.”
From this point forward the United States has managed to position itself at the driver’s seat, in the car they built, on the roads they designed, with speed limits they set.
For nearly 85 years the federal government has persecuted immigrants, blacks, medical patients, and activists over a plant that was originally prohibited because of confusion, racism, and greed.
According to the ACLU, America is responsible for over 7 million people being arrested for having cannabis from 2001 to 2010, with blacks nearly four times more likely to be arrested than whites, even though usage rates are nearly the same.
52% of all drug arrests are for cannabis, and 88% of those arrests are for just having an amount of cannabis.
With many states in the Country legalizing cannabis both recreationally and medically, it’s obvious that the federal laws on cannabis are antiquated and dangerous and unprofitable.
How Georgia Copied a Policy Guaranteed to Fail, & Why it Might Not
The idea of creating a restrictive program with high barriers to entry and low approval rates isn’t novel.
The concept of over-taxing and overregulating isn’t new.
And yet, Georgia has decided for itself that these are the appropriate ways to implement a medical marijuana program.
Create the registry, stockpile the application fees, delay the approval process.
Currently, there are an estimated 15,000 people on Georgia’s marijuana registry waiting for a way to legally purchase their cannabis oil.
There are no operating dispensaries, no ways to obtain cannabis oil legally in the state, and lawmakers are excited to announce that only 6 years later, they are just now ready to look at the applications cultivators submitted for retail storefronts.
Georgia has adopted a bizarre strategy on cannabis, most notably with medical cannabis. Opting to shutdown bills that expand medical and recreational marijuana, in favor of more restrictive, monopolized bills limiting access, cultivation, and products.
The compassionate approach is to provide accessible medication to people in need, who are suffering from conditions that the medication can help with.
The compassionate approach is not to create a prohibitive system that patients register for, that provides absolutely nothing but a piece of paper allowing them to purchase nonexistent products from nonexistent stores.
Perhaps for recreational cannabis use, it would be more understandable.
But adopting a proven-to-fail strategy that delays critical access to medication that people need for over half a decade, is not the way.
A Positive Future for Georgia Cannabis
Not all is bleak and dreary in the world of weed for Georgians though, the state has some solid opportunities to pick its feet up and get the ball moving in the right direction.
With numerous states in the south implementing cannabis programs, Georgia has a lot of access to available resources, if they choose to use them.
And not all hope is lost for Georgian legislators, by passing SB195, Georgia made a critical move in expediting the slow-as-molasses legislation surrounding the medical marijuana program.
It is clear that certain lawmakers and Georgia residents are demanding access to their medication, and legislators seem to be responding, albeit slowly.
And slow is better than stopped, for Georgians it’s likely we’ll see the first dispensaries open sometime later this year, or in 2022.
This is a critical turning point for Georgia medical marijuana patients, who will be able to purchase their medication in store for the first time very soon.
For those who are looking to become a medical marijuana patient now that the state is beginning to lay the foundation for retail storefronts, the department of health is accepting applications certified by physicians.
For the last 6 years it’s been a long and winding road for Georgia medical marijuana patients, but the future is starting to look a little brighter, and turning the page of history takes time.
Georgia has an opportunity to take the right approach this time, and now that the conversation of how dispensaries will open has started, the medical marijuana program in Georgia will officially start to thrive.
Get Your Georgia Marijuana Card
As a Georgia marijuana patient, you can legally purchase up to 20 ounces of low THC cannabis oil. For Georgians, this means getting the relief you need naturally and organically, and Georgia Marijuana Card is here to help.
Reserve your appointment today and get $25 off when we start processing applications!
Feel free to give us a call at (866) 781-5606, and we can help answer your questions about getting medical marijuana in Georgia
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