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POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Woodall’s veterans event deemed success; pot debate draws support

Local Congressman Rob Woodall said his break home from Washington last week was successful.

In addition to a crowded town hall meeting Thursday, Woodall was able to help constituents with his first ever Congressional Veterans Assistance Open House earlier that day.

More than 100 local veterans took part in the event, which featured representatives from federal, state and local agencies as well as service organizations hoping to help them.

“We have asked so much service of our veterans over the years,” Woodall said in a press release. “This event is part of our ongoing effort to make sure that we are serving them. My office works with individual veterans daily, but this event was an effort to create a ‘one stop shop’ for service needs. We wanted to bring experts from all of the VA service agencies together in one place to create an environment where their questions can be answered quickly by the appropriate representative. No phone queues, no being transferred to another representative, and no nonsense.”

Staffers say the event was well-received and Woodall spoke one-on-one with many of the veterans.

“I was honored to do it,” the Republican from Lawrenceville said. “Serving the men and women who have selflessly served all of us is a privilege, and I’m thankful for the opportunity. I am also very grateful to all the representatives from the service organizations and agencies who took time from their busy schedules to make this event possible and further serve our veterans. Events like this one and the people who give of their time and talents to make them a success help to tell the story of how much our community cares about, and cares for, one another.”

Poll shows Georgians thoughts on pot laws

Since Colorado and Washington recently made headlines by allowing the legal consumption of marijuana, some advocates say Georgia voters are ready for the idea.

State affiliates of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws released a statewide poll last week that showed 62 percent of Georgia voters endorse eliminating criminal penalties for less than one ounce of marijuana.

“The citizens of Georgia agree, marijuana prohibition is a wasteful and destructive policy. It is time for our state to catch up with public opinion and find a more sensible solution to the status quo,” said Sharon Ravert, of Peachtree NORML.

The organization is working with lawmakers and other groups in hopes to replace the current criminal penalties of possession, which includes jail time, with a $100 civil fine.

In the poll, 57 percent of voters said they support legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and Ravert welcomes the discussion, saying it could take years.

“Decriminalization, which received the highest level of support among those polled is a policy that could be enacted immediately and would provide legal protection to not only patients but those unfairly targeted by the current policy,” she said. “This is not about getting high; this is about protecting sick people and everyone else from arrest using a harm reduction strategy with public safety as a top priority.”

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via email at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.

For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/politics.