Georgia: Athens-Clarke County Officials Approve Municipal Plan Reducing Minor Marijuana Possession Offenses to a Nominal Fine

Athens, GA: Commissioners for Athens-Clarke County (population: 125,000) approved legislation last week eliminating criminal penalties for activities involving the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis.

Under the newly approved local ordinance, minor marijuana possession cases will be punished by no more than a $35 fine. By contrast, state law defines minor marijuana possession as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. According to a 2020 analysis by the American Civil Liberties Union, Georgia has the fifth highest marijuana possession rate in the nation.

In recent years, a number of Georgia cities and counties, including Atlanta, Macon-Bibb County, and Savannah, have enacted local ordinances imposing fine-only civil penalties for low-level marijuana offenses.

Additional information is available from NORML’s citywide decriminalization report.