A new law that made cannabis or hemp plant farming legal in Georgia caused Gwinnett County Public Schools to make a change to its Student Conduct and Behavior Code.

The Georgia Hemp Farming Act, signed into law May 10, has altered how local law enforcement and judicial systems prosecute misdemeanor marijuana cases, but the possession of the substance is still a violation of the Gwinnett County Public Schools Student Conduct and Behavior Code. The wording of Rule 7 in the code now specifically identifies “cannabis” as a forbidden substance, where it previously addressed “marijuana” in a section titled “Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco.”

“This change is necessary in order for us to ensure our Student Code of Conduct is as clear as possible for students and parents,” associate superintendent Steve Flynt said in a statement.

Rule 7 now prohibits “Cannabis (including but without limitation to marijuana, hemp, THC, etc.)” and “selling — including possession of cannabis that is packaged for distribution or possession of one ounce or more).” The change was prompted by school leaders that “felt it prudent to update the rules, though cannabis and hemp plants are now legal.

Flynt presented the amendment to members of the Gwinnett County Board of Education during its work session, and the board approved the change during its monthly business meeting Thursday. He specified this also covers oils that contain THC that are inhaled with a vaporizer.

“This is a violation of student conduct, and we don’t want that in schools,” Flynt said.

While students will not face criminal charges for possession of cannabis, they will face disciplinary action if found in possession of the substance on school grounds, at bus stops, on a school bus, or at school or district activities, functions and events.

The issue stems from the lack of available testing that determines the amount of THC that makes a substance hemp or marijuana.

School Resource Officers have been instructed to temporarily stop charging students with misdemeanor marijuana charges. Testing methods currently used by local law enforcement and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation do not provide THC levels, thus do not differentiate between legal hemp and marijuana. New tests have been designed but are unavailable to local law enforcement. Once those tests are authorized, arrests and citations will resume for misdemeanor marijuana possession cases.

Taylor Denman is a reporter born and raised in Gwinnett County. He came back home to seize the rare opportunity of telling stories about the county in which he grew up.