Gwinnett County commissioners put the brakes — for now — on a proposal to eliminate jail time as a punishment for violating a county ordinance barring the use of small amounts of marijuana on Tuesday.

The county commission voted to table a proposal to “decriminalize” possession of an ounce or less of marijuana under a county ordinance until its Nov. 2 meeting. The move is designed to give county leaders more time to weigh the impact of the change to drop jail time as one of the punishments.

“After talking with my colleagues during the informal discussion (earlier Tuesday), folks just felt we needed to get more consensus from organizations or folks that would be impacted if you decriminalize small amounts of marijuana,” said Commissioner Kirkland Carden, who has been a proponent of making the change.

The proposal that is being considered is setting the punishment for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana at a $150 fine and 20 hours of community service under a county ordinance. Minors who are caught with marijuana in their possession would also have to complete a drug treatment or education program.

The big change that is being proposed is dropping the jail time part of the punishment. Carden has previously said getting caught with small amounts of marijuana after the ordinance is changed — if it is changed — would amount to getting pulled over for a traffic violation that results in a person receiving a citation.

County attorney Mike Ludwiczak told commissioners that law enforcement officers in the county would still have the option to charge offenders under the state law, which does carry a punishment that includes jail time, instead of the county ordinance if they preferred to do so.

Carden said he has received emails from residents who oppose the change as well as correspondence from residents who support it, but he believes changing the ordinance will help people who need treatment for drug abuse.

County officials have also said it helps prevent residents who make what some people could be called a mistake from having it on their record permanently.

“It should be our goal to try to keep people out of being incarcerated,” Carden said.

I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

(5) comments

John Thomas

From the article:

>>>"we needed to get more consensus from organizations or folks that would be impacted if you decriminalize small amounts of marijuana,” said Commissioner Kirkland Carden."

Who would be "impacted" negatively? - It's rather suspicious that no example was given. --- Marijuana prohibition was FRAUDULENTLY enacted in 1937 by soon-to-be-out-of-work alcohol prohibition bureaucrat, Harry Anslinger. He desperately wanted a new empire and no lie was too big to tell to get it.

The fraudulent prohibition has never accomplished one positive thing. It has ONLY caused vast amounts of crime, violence, corruption, death and the severe diminishing of everyone's freedom.

Thank goodness, we're ending the insane witch-hunt. We just need to make it happen ASAP.

John Thomas

People who have never tried marijuana have misconceptions about the effects. Marijuana doesn't impair thinking. It enhances it. For this reason, it is widely valued in the creative and problem-solving professions.

Carl Sagan was a world-renowned astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, and science educator. He had a brilliant career and was beloved by the English-speaking world for his ground-breaking, educational TV program, "Cosmos." He smoked marijuana recreationally every day. He said:

"The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world... The devastating insights achieved when high are real insights... I can remember one occasion... one idea led to another, and at the end of about an hour of extremely hard work I found I had written eleven short essays on a wide range of social, political, philosophical, and human biological topics... From all external signs, such as public reactions and expert commentary, they seem to contain valid insights. I have used them in university commencement addresses, public lectures, and in my books."

hpytravlr

What a horrible idea. Why would Gwinnett want all the pot heads? Should we not be concentrating on bigger contributors to society?

John Thomas

That's "marijuana consumers," to you, bud. -- Smart employers prefer their workers consume near harmless marijuana (at home, after work), rather than addictive, very harmful, violence-inducing, traffic carnage causing, hangover producing alcohol.

MarvinGardens

The only problem that most cannabis users have, is the same problem most alcohol users had from 1920 to 1933.

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