The City Council of Tybee Island, Georgia voted to make possession of an ounce or less of cannabis a civil penalty fine of $150, the Associated Press reports. Previously, simple possession was a misdemeanor charge punishable with up to a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail. The statute is similar to 12 other Georgia cities—like Atlanta and Savanna—which have decriminalized cannabis, the AP reports.
“I can’t speak highly enough about reducing penalties for marijuana,” Tybee Island Councilman Monty Parks said.
“One of the key parts about this ordinance is that we are not just reducing the fine, we are reducing it from a misdemeanor to a civil penalty.” — Parks via the AP
Despite the penalty reduction in the home of Georgia’s largest public beach, individuals may still be charged with a misdemeanor if a DUI is involved, according to the report.
The move follows Gwinnett County Georgia’s recent announcement that county police would no longer issue misdemeanor cannabis charges. That decision was made after Georgia legalized industrial hemp and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced they did not have a THC potency test that would hold up in court (police departments around the country often have trouble distinguishing high-THC cannabis from federally-permitted hemp).
A 2018 poll found that 55% of Georgians supported adult-use cannabis, with just 35% saying the plant should remain illegal.
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