Stonecrest officials consider decriminalizing marijuana

Stonecrest City Council recently discussed decriminalizing one ounce or less of marijuana in city limits.

Municipal Court of Stonecrest currently supports laws that remove criminal sanctions for low-level marijuana use. The newly proposed ordinance, if passed, would allow law enforcement to punish marijuana possession with a civil citation rather than a criminal record or potential jail time for those caught with one ounce or less.

“Although, decriminalization means different things in different jurisdictions, the idea is the same: Instead of threatening offenders with jail time and permanent criminal records, police issue civil citations. This means a relatively small fine, with no criminal record,” city documents state.

City council members completed the first read of the ordnance at their July 25 meeting and could vote on the ordnance as early as Aug. 22.

According to the proposed ordinance, “City Council finds that enforcement of the state law prohibiting possession of less than one ounce of marijuana has been inequitable and has fallen disproportionately on certain subsets of the population.”

Another reason for the proposed ordinance, according to city officials, is that arrest and/or conviction for the state law offense of possession of less than one ounce of marijuana presents “employment obstacles which marginalize broad swaths of the population.”

According to Stonecrest spokesperson Ray White, the ordnance would give law enforcement officers in Stonecrest more discretion on when to write a ticket or make an arrest. White added that Stonecrest is policed through an intragovernmental agreement with DeKalb County Police Department, which follows a similar practice of writing citations for “small amounts of marijuana.”

“This ordinance contemplates not making a criminal offense of the possession of marijuana,” said White. “If the person continues to get cited for it, then the court can address it in a different way. It gives the officer a little more discretion as well in writing the citation if they find a smaller amount of marijuana on someone, compared to arresting them and taking them to DeKalb County [Jail].”

 “The officer has the discretion to write a citation, because it is not always time and cost effective to arrest someone for marijuana,” added White.

According to the proposed ordinance, any person found guilty of violating this section shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $100.00 and shall not be punished by imprisonment for any term.


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