By Kelly Petty
Credit: Kelly Petty
As marijuana acceptance and legalization forges ahead in the western part of the country, marijuana supporters weigh the “southern prohibition” that exists in states from Texas to Florida.
A coalition of advocacy organizations, including Peachtree NORML, 420 Nation Radio, and the Alabama Medical Marijuana Association, convened at the first Southern Cannabis Reform Conference on March 15 and 16 in Atlanta, GA to discuss how supporters could mobilize to change marijuana laws in the South.
“We as Americans have got to stop giving up our civil rights.” said Diane Goldstein of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).
The South has been heavily affected by drug trafficking due to its proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as a rise in meth addiction and the spread of painkillers along the I-75 corridor from Florida up to Virginia.
Organizations like LEAP believe decriminalization and legalization of marijuana are the first steps to reversing these trends in order to move toward effectively treating people ravaged by drug abuse and addiction.
James Bell, executive director of the Georgia Campaign for Access, Reform & Education (Georgia C.A.R.E.), has worked to get Georgia lawmakers to support and develop legislation to reform the state’s marijuana laws.
His grassroots efforts have led to some strange alliances.
“I get calls from people like the Rotary Club who want to know more about marijuana legislation,” Bell said.
Working through the Georgia General Assembly, Bell asserted that he has found at least a dozen lawmakers who quietly support marijuana legislation. The goal is to get a small majority of people at the state level to get on board to take necessary steps to enact real reforms.