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Georgia: Atlanta Decriminalizes Marijuana

Atlanta, GA Decrim 2017

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last week, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced that he signed the historic city council ordinance decriminalizing marijuana.

“I am pleased to sign this ordinance, which eliminates jail time as a penalty for a conviction for possession of less than an ounce, into law,” Reed said. “People of color, young and low-income people are disproportionately jailed – with sentences up to six months – for possessing small amounts of marijuana. An average of 1,000 people are arrested each year in Atlanta for possession only. We needed to change that. I believe our public safety resources are better directed to stopping and preventing violent crime.”

Georgia: Atlanta Considers Eliminating Jail Time For Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

If the Atlanta City Council passes a bill under consideration, people caught with marijuana in Atlanta may not have to do jail time and pay a $1,000 fine.

The Atlanta City Council will consider legislation at April's meeting to lower fines for marijuana possession to $75 and eliminate any jail time. Under current law, people caught possessing marijuana face a fine of up to $1,000 and can receive up to six months in jail.

Advocates are pushing for the change, saying the move is necessary to address racial disparities in arrests for marijuana use.

92 percent of those arrested in Atlanta between 2014 and 2016 for possession were African American and 85 percent were male, according to the Racial Justice Action Center. An American Civil Liberties Union analysis of marijuana arrests between 2001 and 2010 found blacks were 3.73 times more likely to be arrested nationally for possession of the drug than whites.

City Councilman Michael Julian Bond said he was conflicted because he doesn’t want to encourage drug use, but agreed that the penalties outweighed the violation. But he suggested that $75 may be too low a fine and that jail time could be warranted in some circumstances.

“For me this is an extremely complicated subject,” said Bond, who said he has lost friends to drugs. “I believe as a policy body, we ought not to rush this.

Georgia: Two Pounds Of Marijuana Mailed To Atlanta High School

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A box of marijuana was shipped from a California school to a school in Atlanta, Georgia, police said.

The U.S. Postal Service delivered the package to the registrar's office at Carver High School in southeast Atlanta around lunchtime Monday.

Atlanta police Officer K. Barnes said in a narrative that a school employee had opened the package and found it contained two pounds and 10 ounces of marijuana.

There was a faint marijuana odor from inside the USPS box, but it "quickly became strong as I removed the two individually packaged bundles,” Barnes said in the narrative. It was double wrapped inside vacuum sealed shrink bags.

School officials were unable to find the recipient's name in the Atlanta Public Schools Database, and the address on the package was unclear, police reported.

Officers did find a tracking number for the package and found it had traveled through Merced and West Sacramento, Calif., and Opa-locka, Pompano Beach and Tampa, Fla. before being delivered to Carter High’s registrar’s office at 11:44 a.m. Monday.

The marijuana was given to the Atlanta Police Department’s narcotics unit.

Georgia: Parents Plan To Publicly Break Law To Get Medical Marijuana For Kids

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

With a quick prayer, a group of Georgia parents are preparing to very publicly break the marijuana laws. The room full of parents who have kids they believe can benefit from cannabis oil agreed that they will not be defeated by the recent gutting of the state's medical marijuana legislation.

"The governor has asked us to break federal law; the governor has asked us to break another state's law," parent Vince Seivert said, reports Christopher S. Hopper at WXIA.

Some saw House Bill 722 as the logical successor after House Bill 1 passed last year, allowing Georgia parents to use and possess non-psychoactive CBD oil, derived from cannabis. Parents and patients were hoping HB 722 would make it easier for them to obtain their medicine.

But on Wednesday, the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee approved a gutted version of HB 722 that stripped out in-state cultivation language. In the version of the bill passed by the committee on Wednesday, post-traumatic stress disorder was added back to the list of authorized illnesses that can be treated with cannabis oil.

HB 722 now goes back to the House Rules Committee, where it could be put on the calendar for a full House vote.

Some say the new version of the bill doesn't help enough.

Georgia: Medical Marijuana Won't Be Grown Anytime Soon

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana won't be grown in Georgia anytime soon, according to sources close to the situation.

Macon lawmaker Rep. Allen Peake, who has pushed medicinal cannabis legislation, stripped in-state cultivation out of House Bill 722 on Monday, reports Christopher S. Hopper at 11Alive News.

Other lawmakers, law enforcement officials, religious groups, and even Governor Nathan Deal had joined in an increasingly shrill chorus of voices warning against growing medical marijuana in Georgia. These excitable folks apparently believe that -- uniquely among all medical marijuana states, which are now about half the Union -- Georgia would somehow be selected for persecution and prosecution by the federal government if it dares do something really crazy like protecting sick folks.

HB 722 was widely viewed as the next step after House Bill 1 passed last year, allowing patients to lawfully use and possess non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) cannabis oil. Patients were counting on HB 722 to make it easier for them to obtain their medicine.

A gutted version of HB 722, with in-state cultivation language stripped away, was written up. The gutted version also takes away original language which would have given a greater number of patients access by expanding the allowed list of illnesses from eight 1o 17. PTSD and intractable pain were both removed from the list.

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