AJC poll: Georgians back limited legalization of medical marijuana

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AJC poll: Georgians back limited legalization of medical marijuana

An exclusive Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll takes a close look at what Georgians want their Legislature to tackle in 2015. While today’s story focuses on medical marijuana, join us on myAJC.com as we roll out results through Thursday on hot-button topics including the economy, transportation and immigration.

A closer look at poll results

This poll of 905 Georgians statewide was conducted Jan. 5-8 by Abt SRBI of New York. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points for each response.

Note: Telephone interviews were conducted by landline (n=541) and cellphone (n=364). The full sample of 905 Georgia residents were weighted to match the population parameters of the adult population in Georgia. The sample was balanced to match population parameters for sex, age, education level, race/Hispanic ethnicity, region (North, Atlanta Metro, Atlanta Exurbs, Southeast, Southwest), and telephone usage (cell-only, dual-user, landline-only). Some totals may not equal 100 percent due to rounding.

Georgians overwhelmingly support the legalization of a form of marijuana to treat certain medical conditions, a new poll for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found.

The poll, conducted Monday through Thursday by New York-based Abt SRBI, found that 84 percent of Georgians, as well as 84 percent of registered voters, agreed that the Legislature should legalize a marijuana-based medication. Such a medication — cannabis oil — has been the focus of lawmakers since last year, although they have yet to pass a bill legalizing it.

The oil is used to treat certain seizure disorders in both children and adults — afflictions that can cause hundreds of seizures a day and often lead to death. It is harvested from the marijuana plant but does not create the high that recreational users of marijuana seek.

Meanwhile, a near majority in the poll also support going further and legalizing marijuana for recreational use among adults. While 49 percent of all respondents and 46 percent of registered voters support legalizing marijuana, 48 percent of all respondents and 52 percent of registered voters disagree.

Those results come after a state senator proposed to provide Colorado-style access to marijuana at licensed retail shops while also allowing its use through medical providers for treatment of conditions including cancer, glaucoma and HIV/AIDS.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points, meaning neither supporters nor opponents of full legalization have a clear majority. The poll used live operators who called a mix of land-line and cellphones.

Legalization of a form of marijuana as well as full decriminalization of pot will be on the agenda when lawmakers return to work Monday.

Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, has prefiled House Bill 1 to allow the use of cannabis oil to treat certain disorders. That bill, however, would only legalize the use of a variety of marijuana that does not produce the high generally associated with the plant.

Sen. Curt Thompson, D-Tucker, has prefiled Senate Bill 7 to allow expanded access to medical marijuana and also allow recreational use. Thompson has also proposed a constitutional amendment, Senate Resolution 6, to put the question to voters and mandate that tax revenue from the sale of marijuana would be constitutionally earmarked for education and transportation infrastructure.

Peake’s bill has the full support of Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, meaning it will likely pass the House this year, as it did in 2014.

“It’s a priority of ours and we’re going to move on it,” Ralston said.

Thompson’s proposed constitutional amendment, however, will not receive as warm a reception, Ralston said.

“That will not pass in the House,” he said. “I don’t support that.”

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