Gwinnett commissioner is pushing to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana in the county

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Gwinnett County Commissioner Kirkland Carden is working to get marijuana decriminalized in his county.

Carden campaigned on this issue and is one of its key backers. He says taking small amounts of marijuana, less than an ounce, should only result in a simple ticket with a $150 fine.

“This is not about condoning the use of marijuana but instead decriminalizing small amounts. Folks just felt that we needed to get more consensus from organizations that would be impacted,” said Carden.

He believes this would help decrease the jail population and help police.

“In the past our police department would expend valuable resources in connection with the arrest, processing and transporting to jail the people accused of violating this ordinance,” said Michael Ludwiczak, county attorney.

Ludwiczak explains how the new law would work in accordance with current state laws.

“Persons found to be in possession of one ounce or less can still be charged at the discretion of the police officer with the violation of the state law,” said Ludwiczak.

Carden has asked for a month’s delay, while he tries to get others on board with the plan.

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State law remains at up to a year in jail and a thousand-dollar fine. Under the new local law, judges could also sentence any offender to drug treatment. That is, if Carden can convince his fellow commissioners to approve the changes. A new vote is set for next month.