I grew up in a smaller city in upstate New York that so happens to be a college town. Spending most of my teens in a student-filled apartment complex, I smelled weed every day but never thought anything about it. Weed has always been around. Why? One, the city is a part of the state’s transportation pipeline before running to New York City. Two, in the sunless corner of the northeast, weed is the only way for some people to maintain happiness. The brutal winters are unforgiving; it’s dark by 3 pm, schools offer seasonal lightboxes, and if there’s a storm—you’re not leaving the house for at least two days. You’re more likely to have nerve damage living there with the brisk temperatures, especially if you drink or smoke cigarettes. For that reason, getting caught with possession was usually followed by a shoulder shrug amongst law enforcement so long as you were not behind the wheel. Sometimes a ticket would follow, but rarely. No, they didn’t wrestle you to the ground, taze you, and call you a community-destroying heathen. The department’s had other things to worry about rather than a sandwich bag with two grams of shake that’ll get two sophomores in high school lit. Opioids have ravaged my hometown’s community. First, it was heroin, then it was heroin laced with fentanyl, and now it’s fentanyl. I can’t tell you how many people I know have lost their battle with opiates, but I can tell you that we can take action to save lives.
The lighter repercussions when it came to marijuana were more so a pre-cursor to its legalization in New York last year. Now, there are still a lot of questions that are surrounding legalization and decriminalization. The officers were abiding by decriminalization, but they were doing one better by not handing out a ticket. Decriminalization is a step towards progress because the needless arrests for marijuana are going down. But it is not a finalized stance on marijuana, such as any state that votes to legalize medical and recreational—varying degrees before it is considered criminal. Decriminalization means receding punishments such as prison time; instead (based on how much you have), you can pay a fine. However, if you are carrying a bulk amount, that’s where the idea of intent to distribute begins to unfold. Like medical and recreational marijuana, these stipulations are from state to state rather than the entire country. Georgia is a decriminalized state that has slowly been unrolling its medical cannabis program.
Sadly, decriminalization in Georgia is fairly new, while states have been sailing by with the legalization of recreational. Decriminalization only helps to an extent, while legalization has an impact that can improve the lives of those against it. There hasn’t been enough progression where it matters—inside the Capital where the politicians make the decisions. Even when studies have declared that the economic, legal, and social ramifications of legalization will positively affect public safety and health, there hasn’t been an inch of progress in the medical program. It’s interesting to hear pending candidates bragging about how many criminals they put away but have neither considered nor mentioned these statistics. Privatized prisons are cash grabs. The state’s lack of response and slow progress has become the subject of a petition informing politicians that people in pain need medical-grade assistance because the CBD alone isn’t doing it for them.
Decriminalization in Atlanta depends on which county you’re in. Fulton County, the largest county in Atlanta, has halted their arrest unless it’s over two ounces. Now, Doraville has joined the team where marijuana is decriminalized. There may have had a helping hand from the CBD industry once Delta 8 THC came around, and there was an overwhelming amount of confusion. This confusion stems from hemp and marijuana looking the same, smelling similar, and tasting similar. Atlanta halted arrests for a good amount of time because there was no way of completely distinguishing what they were looking at without a series of tests that had to be conducted in a lab. However, this may be the case for the time being. We knew there was a change that was going to happen eventually. The new crusade of the hemp industry has begun, but it’s not any particular brand that dedicates its time, care, and love to craft products. No, they attacked the places that we deter our clients from because we know some products out there that cannot be safe. Catching this wind from neighboring states, prosecutors went after a gas station, declaring that marijuana was under their watch and help. A Gwinnett county convenience store was charged for selling products that weren’t aligning with federal regulations. Please let it be known that what we do at ATLRx is not even close to what a gas station does. We source our products from recreationally legal states like Oregon, Colorado, and Cali. They provide top-quality indoor hemp flower that is non-GMO and organic. We then use the best cleanest form of extraction found on the market called supercritical CO2 and ethanol. This gives us a pure distillate that is then tested in a DEA-certified lab for toxins, solvents, metals, and toxic residuals. We then test the product again. Nothing arrives in our hands until it has a certificate of analysis that shows it’s a perfectly clean product. Then we put everything that you need to know in a QR code from your exact batch. We take transparency very seriously because it’s your health; you deserve to see what you’re putting into your body. What can be disheartening in Georgia is that we are in the bible beltline; the values that are preserved against marijuana may be a hurdle for Georgia, but anything is possible after the state flipped blue last election. There will be a day of legalization will happen, setting up the economy and public for a better world to live in. But as of right now, we are in the midst of a societal evolution where the cannabis dispensaries have become the new bars; eventually, Georgia will have to make that leap—or suffer financial losses.