Athens-Clarke County lowers the consequences for possessing small amounts of marijuana to a $35 fine. This is a big deal because, in the state of Georgia, the punishment for pot possession is notoriously high.
At the state level, possessing more than an ounce of cannabis is a felony.
According to NORML, “Possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months imprisonment and/or a fine up to $1,000, or public works for up to 12 months. Possession of over an ounce is a felony punishable by a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.”
However, that is changing in one Georgia County.
On Tuesday, August 2, 2022, Athens-Clarke County commissioners approved an ordinance that eliminates jail time and established one of the lowest fees in the state for those caught with less than an ounce of marijuana.
Only one local commissioner, Ovita Thornton, voted against the ordinance which passed in an 8-1 vote.
The University of Georgia is located in Athens-Clarke County.
The commission changed the ordinance since it was last discussed. At a meeting in July, the commissioners talked about a $1 fine. But later they found out that it is not possible to do that.
Now, the fine is set at $35 because there is a minimum required surcharge from the state. According to Commissioner Mariah Parker, this would go to the county law library, the sheriff’s retirement fund and the Peace Officers’ Annuity and Benefit Fund.
County officials did warn that cannabis possession of any amount is still illegal in the state of GA but this ordinance will make the lowest cannabis fine in the state.
According to Ganjapeneur, “Other municipalities, including Atlanta, Savannah, Macon-Bibb, Statesboro, Tybee Island, Clarkston, Chamblee, Forest Park, Kingsland, and South Fulton have also enacted measures to decriminalize cannabis possession, eschewing jail time for fines between $75 to $500.”