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Atlanta Teens Weigh in on Georgia Medical Marijuana Bill

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2016 is only a third of the way through and millennials are already dealing with an onslaught of issues carried over from 2015 — one of them being the legalization of marijuana. Legalizing marijuana has always been an issue in the air (no pun intended), but it seems that there have been more opinionated voices populating media, especially with the election season here.

Many candidates have voiced their opinions about legalizing marijuana, and as I continued to look upon their answers I began to ask myself: “What would Georgia be like if the use of marijuana was legalized?” As a curious teen, I was sure some of my peers pondered the same question. My mission was set: find out how other teens felt about the issue. But before I could, I decided to do some research on the process of legalizing marijuana in Georgia.

Long road to marijuana bill

In April 2015, Governor Nathan Deal signed House Bill 1, a bill that officially legalized the use of medical marijuana in the state of Georgia. Led by Representative Allen Peake (R-Macon), the bill allows families in Georgia to use cannabis oil (a form of medical marijuana) to treat diseases and disorders in both children and adults. The oil is made from the plant itself but does not create the high that recreational use of marijuana causes.

The bill allows patients who suffer from certain illnesses to possess up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil if a physician signs off. These illnesses include cancer, Crohn’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, mitochondrial disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, seizure disorders and sickle cell disease. It was legalized for both children and adults, but the oil could contain no more than 5 percent THC, the high-inducing chemical associated with recreational marijuana use.

Passing the bill was progress, but it left another question to answer: how were citizens going to obtain this legalized marijuana if you can not cultivate the plant in Georgia? While many people are advocating for it to be cultivated in the state, Governor Nathan Deal and law enforcement officials have high concerns that cultivation would create a slippery slope that could lead towards the push for recreational marijuana use.

On February 29, the Georgia house passed House Bill 722, which expands the illnesses cannabis oil can be used for, but the cultivation of marijuana, the key principle of this bill, was stripped out due to the high concerns previously stated.

Teens weigh in

With the research surrounding marijuana, it can be difficult to weigh its pros and cons. The drug has its positive effects such as medicinal uses, but the effects of using marijuana seem horrible.

Teens in the Atlanta area differed on the bill’s passing.

Javan Francis, a 16-year-old student at Grace Christian Academy who resides in the Atlanta area said he didn’t agree with the bill’s passing for health reasons.

“I [am] against it because marijuana can alter your state of consciousness, so if it does get legalized people would have the potential to abuse the usage while doing other activities.

“For example, smoking while working. I feel that it would be dangerous and another cause of the death percentage rising. America has gotten this far without legalizing it, and there’s no need to provide citizens with another safety hazard.”

Sierra Hall and Rae Ann Muller, both high school seniors in the Fayette County area, had disagreeing thoughts on the bill with Hall agreeing with Francis.  

“Although there are many benefits, I believe that the negative effects outweigh the good, and the end will result in a more positive environment,” Hall said.

Muller disagreed saying: “ Legalizing marijuana would open many opportunities in the medical field.

“Although the side effects seem very negative, I believe that it’s the person’s choice to abuse marijuana, just like alcohol.”


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