Savannah Alderman submits proposal to reduce marijuana fines

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The Hostess City is one step closer to following in the footsteps of Atlanta and essentially decriminalize marijuana possession in small amounts.

Alderman Van Johnson announced his intention to present the City Council with a new marijuana possession penalty proposal in October.

He has now submitted that proposal and is requesting the first reading on Dec. 21 this year with the hope to adopt the new ordinance on Jan. 4 of next year.

Under State law, anyone charged with possession of marijuana, which could be one ounce or less, is considered guilty of a misdemeanor.

The maximum fine is $1,000, and a guilty party could face imprisonment for up to a year (in addition to a fine) or public works for up to a year.

Alderman Johnson’s proposal introduced Wednesday would reduce the maximum rate to $150 for a first offense – and eliminate jail time.

The same applies to the second offense, but the fine would increase to $300.

A third and any subsequent offense would be punishable by a term of imprisonment.

His proposal includes the implementation of training for the soon-to-be Savannah Police Department, to distinguish the differences between the City Code of Ordinances and State law.

In addition, he proposes that 20% of the fines be given to a local rehabilitation facility/organization to offset drug treatment costs.

Alderman Johnson says this proposal will relieve the courts of marijuana cases, allow police to focus on more violent crime, and spare many people of arrest records that could impact employment, housing or school opportunities.

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