Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman said he plans on getting together with the court officials to come up with a directive on arrests or charges related to misdemeanor marijuana possession before going forward. We will update as soon as we hear of any directive out of Walton County.
(Lawrenceville, Georgia) Gwinnett County Police Department announced there will no longer be prosecutions on any misdemeanor marijuana cases with an arrest date on or after May 10, 2019. Therefore, effective immediately, it will no longer make arrests or issue citations for crimes related to misdemeanor amounts of marijuana. This is due to the confusion as a result of the “Georgia Hemp Farming Act,” that has muddied the waters regarding hemp and marijuana.
GCPD is working with the Solicitor’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and any other affected agencies to resolve this confusion as quickly as possible. In the meantime, GCPD is encouraging the public to remember that possession and use of marijuana is still illegal and the issue with testing is being thoroughly investigated to make sure that arrests made by GCPD are proper and legal.
It issued the following statement explaining the decision.
“The Georgia Hemp Farming Act” became law on May 10, 2019. The Office of the Solicitor General of Gwinnett County issued a memorandum, dated August 7, 2019, stating that due to the change in the law regarding allowable THC concentrations, they will no longer prosecute any misdemeanor marijuana cases with an arrest date on or after May 10, 2019. Therefore, effective immediately, the Gwinnett County Police Department will not make custodial arrests or issue citations for crimes related to misdemeanor amounts of marijuana. GCPD will still pursue crimes related to felony amounts of marijuana; those cases will be reviewed by the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office on a case-by-case basis.
“The Georgia Hemp Farming Act” allows for hemp plants containing THC to be produced by licensed growers and possessed by individuals. The issue with enforcement arises from determining the difference between legal hemp and illegal marijuana—they are identical by smell and sight, even under a microscope. Hemp must have a THC concentration of 0.3% or less to be legal. Typical marijuana smoked or ingested to produce a high has a THC concentration of around 10% – 15%; high-grade marijuana may have a THC concentration of 25% – 35%. The testing methods currently used by the GCPD and GBI crime labs only test for the presence of THC and not for the concentration of THC. There is currently not a court acceptable test that can differentiate between hemp and marijuana. The GBI is researching methods and technologies to address this issue. GCPD Crime Scene Investigators, who conduct GCPD’s in-house marijuana testing, are trained and certified by the GBI. While certified in current procedures, GCPD must rely upon the GBI to establish protocol and training on this new matter before in-house testing for THC concentration can occur.”