Mar 28

How 'marijuana refugees' brought legal cannabis to Georgia (+video)

Atlanta — Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal on Friday said he would sign into law a bill that would make the Peach State the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana, continuing the rapid expansion of cannabis into the Deep South & underscoring a dramatic shift in pot politics for social conservatives in the US.With Governor Deal’s OK, the law will allow certified Georgia families to possess up to 20 ounces of nonintoxicating cannabidiol extract (CBD) for use in treating symptoms of eight health conditions, without fear of prosecution.The law, dubbed “Haleigh’s Hope Act” after a child it will affect, could assist as many as 500,000 Georgians, said Rep. Allan Peake, a Macon Republican who fought for the passage of what was only two years ago a long-shot gambit.  Recommended: How much do you know approximately marijuana? Take the quiz Following on the heels of similar, yet much narrower laws that passed last year in Florida, South Carolina, & Tennessee, Deal, a Republican, has said he’s mainly reaching out to 17 “marijuana refugee” families that moved from Georgia to Colorado in order to be able to legally obtain the substance to assist with their children’s treatment.But more broadly, the sight of Southern Republican governors such as Deal, Gov. Nikki Haley in South Carolina & Gov. Rick Scott in Florida signing even narrow medical marijuana laws highlights a rapidly shifting political landscape for conservative politicians, including potential Republican presidential candidates.“This is tough for the Republican Party because it’s received this libertarian component that says that we should legalize, period, & then you’ve received social conservatives that oppose marijuana for health, paternalistic, or moral reasons,” says Rob Mikos, a Vanderbilt University political scientist who specializes in the nexus between federalism & drug policy. “Maybe some conservatives are seeing these CBD laws as a compromise that helps a small sub-set of the population yet doesn’t open the floodgates.”Just this week, Sen. Rand Paul, a likely presidential candidate, co-sponsored with Democrats a federal bill, the CARERS Act, which marks the first time a medical marijuana bill has been introduced in both houses of Congress.It “could represent a turning point in the national debate approximately this much-maligned plant,” writes libertarian drug policy expert Jacob Sullum, on Forbes.There have been other signs of philosophical shifts among top conservatives. Last year, Sen. …

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