Atlanta Marijuana Law Changes

Atlanta Marijuana Law Changes

In October 2017, the Atlanta City Council unanimously approved legislation introduced which dramatically reduced penalties associated with possession of marijuana. The ordinance changed the penalties for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana (which were fines up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail) to a maximum fine of $75 and no jail time. In the city of Atlanta, the overwhelming majority of arrests for marijuana-related offenses are of African Americans (92 percent) despite the fact that numerous studies have concluded a similar marijuana usage across all racial demographics.  

The State of Georgia Looks at De-Criminalization of Marijuana

Very recently, the entire state of Georgia took a look at a bill which would decriminalize marijuana across the state just as Atlanta has done. Those who back the bill say it makes sense to do statewide what some Georgia cities have done—to make the laws governing marijuana possession less punitive. While SB 10 would not legalize marijuana—like other states such as Colorado and California have done—it wouldmake changes that many believe are long overdue. 

Sponsor of the Bill Says It’s Time for Georgia to “Catch Up” 

The sponsor of the bill, State Senator Harold Jones, said it was time for Georgia to “catch up”with Republican states across the nation which treat those who possess small amounts of marijuana much better than the state of Georgia. Under current state law, it is a felony to possess more than an ounce of marijuana. The new bill would make it a misdemeanor to possess less than two ounces and would decriminalize possession of a half-ounce or less. This would make the individual caught with small amounts of marijuana subject to what would be equivalent to a traffic ticket with a fine of no more than $300. 

Opinions Divided Regarding De-Criminalization of Marijuana in the State of Georgia

Some in Georgia are not happy with the proposed bill. Terry Norris, executive director of the Georgia Sheriffs Association claims “Marijuana is a dangerous drug. It is a gateway drug.” Residents in the state appear to be split on the decision. One retired businessman from Buckhead stated that as long as the drug doesn’t hurt anyone, it’s “fine with me.” Others feel decriminalization of marijuana would open the door for recreational legalization—a notion which pleased some residents but not others. 

Despite Legalization of Marijuana in Georgia, It Remains Illegal to Buy or Sell Medical Marijuana

As residents of Georgia may be aware, while medical marijuana was legalized in the state over two years ago, the drug remains almost impossible to obtain. One retired pharmacist, Robert Bowles, finds himself very frustrated with his inability to obtain marijuana for his Lewy body dementia, anxiety and depression—even though the drug is technically legal. 

Bowles has been approved for medical marijuana to alleviate his symptoms, obtaining a card from the Georgia Department of Health as required. Yet there is no way for Bowles to legally acquire the medical marijuana in the state—it’s against the law to grow medical marijuana, the drug cannot be legally brought into Georgia from another state, and it is illegal to buy or sell marijuana. 

As you can imagine, these contradicting laws make the THC Oil Registry Card Bowles has, essentially useless. It also means that other card-carrying residents of the state who are grappling with illnesses which could benefit from medical marijuana are being forced to tap into an “underground” supply network of medical marijuana or risk cultivating it in their back yards. 

So far, the Atlanta police have never arrested anyone with a registry card for an approved condition who was in possession of street marijuana or marijuana oil. Police officers have discretion in these situations and will tend to look at the totality of the circumstances, taking all factors into consideration. 

Call an Experienced Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer Immediately Following an Arrest for Marijuana Possession

Despite the relaxation of certain marijuana laws in the state, it is entirely possible that you could find yourself under arrest for possession of marijuana or for another drug offense in the state of Georgia. If you do find yourself in this position, it is particularly important that you contact an experienced drug offense attorney as quickly as possible. To ensure the best possible outcome of your drug charges, contact Melanie Ellwanger today. Melanie will be the advocate in your corner that you desperately need at this time and will protect your rights and your future at every turn. If you want a Georgia criminal defense attorney who will aggressively fight your charges, contactMelanie Ellwanger today by calling (404) 803-3105.