Starting January 1, being caught with an ounce or less of marijuana in Statesboro, Georgia will no longer result in an immediate trip to jail. The new ordinance includes only misdemeanor marijuana possession offenses. If additional charges are tacked onto the possession charge, it may not qualify for the new penalty.
The new penalty is a fine of up to $500 or an equal amount of community service, according to the Statesboro Herald. Only cases that will be heard in the Statesboro Municipal Court will apply to the new ordinance. Bulloch County laws still apply to cases heard in the Bulloch County State and Superior Courts.
The City Council voted unanimously to approve the ordinance. The ordinance set a limit of one ounce to be eligible for the new penalty. The new ordinance does not include provisions for repeat offenders. The intent of the ordinance is to allow law enforcement officials to spend more time working cases of serious and violent crime. It’s essentially a “cite and release” process now – for simple cases.
Chief of Police Mike Broadhead said, “I believe that the police officer on the scene is the one who has the context of how the marijuana was found. They find a guy who’s smoking a blunt and he’s on his back porch and he’s not hurting anybody; that needs to be taken within context.”
Officers will examine how the marijuana is packaged. If it is in multiple packages and it “appears” to be in quantities for distribution/sale – the context of the situation could be different and result in different charges being filed instead of a simple citation.