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Board finalizing recomendation to decriminalize some marijuana possession

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    Gwinnett, Georgia (Gwinnett Daily Post) — The board created earlier this year to advise the Gwinnett County Police Department and county commissioners on policy matters is on the cusp of finalizing its recommendation that Gwinnett leaders decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The Gwinnett Police Citizens Advisory Board voted last month to recommend county commissioners to change Gwinnett County Ordinance 66.3, which deals with marijuana possession. It will present the written copy of that resolution, effectively “memorializing” last month’s decision according to board chairman Sean Goldstein, at its June 15 meeting.

The recommended change is to make possession of less than an ounce of marijuana a county ordinance violation, punishable by a fine or community service, rather than a criminal act.

“We had already voted, but we still have to send that recommendation to the commission, so obviously we have to memorialize it,” said Goldstein, who is an attorney. “We have to put it in writing basically. We had never done that before since this is our very first recommendation … so basically what we did is our vice-chair, Marqus Cole, was tasked with memorializing, writing down what our recommendation to the commission was going to be and we’re going to have a discussion regarding the actual written format of the recommendation to the commissioners …

“It’s just finalizing the decisions that were already made on May 18.”

If the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners adopts the recommended change, the punishment for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana would be either a $150 fine or up to 20 hours of community service, according to a copy of the proposed resolution that the Daily Post has obtained.

In essence, it could be seen as being, in a way, like getting a ticket for not wearing a seat belt, Goldstein confirmed. That can have a big impact for people who are caught possessing less than an ounce of marijuana, however.

“That’s where it tries to take this,” Goldstein said. “It’s decriminalizing, lessening the impact that this could have on somebody. With a marijuana charge under this ordinance, it really lessens the severity and impact it could have on their lives.”

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