Advocates for marijuana law reform are calling on the state of Georgia to suspend the arrest and prosecution of marijuana possession cases, according to a recent release from Georgia Campaign for Access, Reform, & Education (Georgia CARE).
The call comes after state prosecutors said they lack the resources to prosecute a backlog of child exploitation cases in a January press conference.
In Georgia, possession of more than 28 grams of marijuana carries up to 10 years in state prison. Roswell Police deal with their share of marijuana cases on a daily basis.
A letter to Governor Nathan Deal from James Bell, director of Georgia CARE, asks the governor to direct state agencies to suspend the arrest and prosecution of marijuana possession cases and use the limited resources on crimes against people and property, particularly child exploitation and violent offenders.
Read the entire letter, attached to this article, sent by Bell to Deal.
Bell points out the state found the resources to arrest, prosecute and incarcerate nearly 40,000 marijuana cases last year - a vast majority of these cases for mere possession.
“Wasting tax dollars and law enforcement resources on marijuana has jeopardized the public health and safety of the citizens of Georgia,” Bell wrote. “We respectfully request that you as governor of the State of Georgia take the lead in this matter and redirect the resources to ensure children are protected.”
In Forsyth County, there were 134 marijuana-related arrests in 2012 made by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office.
"These were all arrests where possession of marijuana was the primary offense," said Karleen Chalker of the sheriff's office.
In the city of Cumming, "We had five cases in which the primary charge was possession of marijuana," said Sgt. Bryan Zimbardi of the Cumming Police Department.
Georgia CARE are advocates for reform of marijuana laws including medical marijuana and decriminalization for adults. The organization is engaged in a campaign to educate the public and lawmakers on why marijuana law reform must be addressed.
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have medical marijuana
laws and two states, Colorado and Washington, have legalized personal
Georgia unanimously passed medical marijuana laws in 1980 but the program was halted due to lack of participation from the federal government.
For more about Georgia CARE, find them on Facebook.
Christine Foster and Liz Kennedy contributed to this article.