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Georgia’s hemp law creates confusion over marijuana prosecution

On Behalf of | Oct 23, 2019 | Criminal defense |

Last May, Georgia adopted the Hemp Farming Act, which legalized the growth and sale of hemp products. Both hemp and marijuana come from cannabis but are structurally different and used for various purposes. Hemp contains minimal amounts of THC, which is the substance that causes someone to get high when using marijuana.

Georgia’s law meets federal requirements that industrial hemp cannot contain more than 0.3% of THC, and the state must license growers.

However, the testing methods previously employed by many law enforcement officers lacked the capacity to quantify the amount of THC present in the substance being tested.  Typically, testing was done by trained local law enforcement on cases or arrests involving less than one ounce of marijuana. Since this issue has caught public eye, Counties have reacted differently to this evidentiary challenge.

Several Georgia counties have weighed in on how they are handling marijuana cases since the law went into effect:

  • Gwinnett County stopped prosecuting cases that happened after May 10 and said it was throwing out hundreds of other cases, and that officers will no longer make arrests for misdemeanor pot possession. However, drivers can still be charged with DUI if blood tests show THC in your system.
  • Cobb County said no cases were being dismissed and would be handled case by case. However, police officials said they were not recommending officers to arrest people for misdemeanor marijuana offenses.
  • DeKalb County said it would dismiss cases and would not prosecute any single-count cases that occurred after the new law was passed.
  • Athens-Clarke County said while it would not make any new arrests or issue citations, they will confiscate and hold onto evidence until reliable testing is available.

If you have been charged with a marijuana-related crime, an experienced criminal defense attorney here in Georgia will protect your rights.