There are many jurisdictions in the Metro Atlanta area where consumers still cannot purchase alcohol on certain days or after a specific time each night. When marijuana laws began to change around the country, allowing for medical and recreational use, many felt that Georgia would remain closed off to the idea.
Instead, in 2017, Atlanta shocked many onlookers, including its own residents, when it decided to take steps to decriminalize marijuana. This does not necessarily mean that marijuana is legal, in the way it is in California and Colorado. Instead, AJC reports that the city chose to reduce penalties and eliminate jail time for people found in possession of one ounce or less.
Other changes since then
After Atlanta’s decision, several other Georgia cities passed similar laws. The two most well-known are Statesboro and Macon. According to 13WMAZ, In these areas, people caught with one ounce of marijuana or less also face reduced penalties. However, people who are repeat offenders or who have a history of drug use might still end up facing prosecution under the tougher state laws.
Need for retraining
When the law first passed in Statesboro, police officers still charged 90% of the people under the state law. This is because local laws do not necessarily replace existing state ones. Instead, in cases like Statesboro, they offer conditions to consider lighter sentences. The problem is that many police officers need retraining on when to use these laws. It also leaves a lot of room for biases to play out, as police officers might still charge specific demographics more harshly than others.
Georgia has a long way to go when it comes to decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana use. However, some might argue that baby steps are better than no steps at all.