Georgia Law Enforcement Executives have drawn their “line in the sand”. They are against in-State cultivation of cannabis, in any form.
Cannabis Opposition No Surprise
No big surprise here, really. Their position is, Cannabis is illegal and they are enforcers of the law. It’s that simple for them. Or is it? If their only interest is in enforcing the law, why are they so adamantly opposed to the law being changed? If they are purely unbiased and only enforce the Law, why are they trying to influence Legislators?
Having a Law Enforcement background, in a top Command Staff position, I think I have a few answers.
- A completely biased view on cannabis. Cannabis has been illegal at the Federal level since circa 1937. Cannabis is a Schedule I substance, touted as having no known medicinal value. Law Enforcement is incapable of getting past that. They are creatures of the Law and will not begin to change until cannabis is rescheduled.
- Fear of downsizing. Law Enforcement agencies constantly fight budget battles. City Councils, County Commissions and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget want to save as much as they can. These budgeting authorities look hard at LE Agencies. LE Execs use the War on Cannabis as rational for retaining positions.
- Loss of revenue. They will deny this until the bitter end, but a primary concern is revenue. The ACLU performed a nationwide analysis for marijuana arrests based on the years 2001 to 2010 (ACLU Analysis). 52% of all “drug” arrests in 2010 were for marijuana. 88% of the marijuana arrests during that time span were for simple possession. The trend in Georgia over the past several years has been just over 34,000 arrests for marijuana annually. Apply that 88% and you have 29,920 possession arrests. The max fine for < oz possession is $1000. $29,920,000 will disappear from the coffers of the 159 counties and 535 incorporated towns and cities of Georgia if cannabis is legalized.
The Cannabis Bills
Law Enforcement opposition is now focused on HB722, which would expand access to CBD Oil in Georgia through highly regulated in-State cultivation of cannabis. They see the direction that leads and they fear it.
Their next opposition will be to HB704, OUR BILL. As far as they are concerned, there is no difference in Marijuana and Industrial Hemp. They will have the same arguments about not being able to control it, and the same fears that someone will deviate from the path and turn a Hemp grow into a Marijuana grow. They obviously haven’t studied the science and don’t want to bother to see the difference in the two, even though that difference is evident.
This is an Industrial Hemp grow. Tall, straight plants sown thickly.
This is a Marijuana grow. Short, bushy plants set far apart.
Georgia Law Enforcement Executives have opined that any in-State grows of cannabis for medical use under HB722 should be conducted by the University System. HB704 follows the USDA Guidelines set forth under the 2014 Federal Farm Bill for experimental cultivation of Industrial Hemp conducted by the University System. I wonder how they will defend an opposition to Industrial Hemp cultivation when it echoes their own advice?
I won’t address social use of Cannabis. That’s not our focus here. I’ll just mention that all the LE fear comes from the “recreational” aspect.