Temple GA: At the end of a combative three hour council meeting Thursday night, a meeting one council member publicly called “a pissing match”, council member Penny Ransom brings unite to the meeting by putting marijuana law reform on the table.
Ransom told the mayor and council she wants the city to consider replacing the current marijuana ordinance with one similar to the city of Clarkston. She suggested that meetings occur over the next several weeks to discuss the details of the ordinance and expressed her concerns that the current ordinance is to harsh at $1000 fine and 180 days in jail.
Her proposal was received with head nods and applause by some council members and citizens.
The state constitution allows cities to create an ordinance for one ounce or less, enabling the cases to be adjudicated in municipal courts. While state law for misdemeanor possession carries a penalty of up to $1000 fine and 12 months in jail or probation, cities are restricted to 180 days confinement under a city ordinance. The constitution does not set a minimum sentence a city can impose.
Clarkston made headline news last summer by enacting an ordinance that sets a $75 fine for each offense of possession of one ounce or less of cannabis, eliminating the requirement to arrest and incarcerate the suspect.
Temple is one of the cities being targeted by the “City by City Initiative” established by the Georgia CARE Project in an effort to reduce the harm marijuana laws create.
James Bell, director of Georgia CARE , said cities that enact reform legislation are mirroring public opinion that people should not be treated as criminals for possession of small amounts.
No criminal record would be generated under this ordinance.
“Cities can handle these cases without criminalizing its citizens and visitors to their city”, said Bell. “A person would receive a citation and agree to appear in court or pay the set fine without being arrested, booked, photographed and finger printed like a criminal.”
Bell points out the proposed ordinance would not effect the ability of police to arrest for intent to distribute or driving under the influence. State law would be used in these cases.
We will update this report as the process moves forward.