Cobb develops stop-gap policy on marijuana arrests

Cobb County Police car in article about crime victims counseling clinicCobb County police car (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

In light of the confusion generated by the difficulty in telling the difference between hemp, which is legal under the recently enacted Georgia Hemp Farming Act, and marijuana, Cobb has developed a new policy on marijuana arrests. This policy is intended to guide arrests pending the development of a test that will be able to tell marijuana from hemp.

As a result of this confusion Gwinnett County has begun throwing out marijuana cases.

Cobb County Police Chief Tim Cox issued a memo within the police department which stated:

The department needs to make a temporary procedural change on the manner that we handle misdemeanor marijuana charges.

Due to a legislative change several months ago, we had to discontinue the process of issuing a citation for misdemeanor marijuana possession. This left the only avenue for us to charge someone was through a physical arrest.

Today, information has been received on another legislative change related to marijuana, hemp and prosecutable THC levels. After discussions with prosecutors, it appears that arresting someone for misdemeanor marijuana possession is not recommended. This creates a problem since we cannot issue a citation and it is not recommended that we make an arrest.

Obviously a remedy will need to be found but I don’t foresee it occurring for several days or possibly months.

As a result, effective immediately, any misdemeanor amounts of marijuana that an officer encounters will be confiscated and sent to the Evidence Unit to be destroyed. A criminal charge will not be made until a solution can be found to this dilemma.

All cases that have previously been made will be reviewed by the Solicitor’s Office and it’s prosecution will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

We are not the only law enforcement jurisdiction that is dealing with this dilemma. The media has been discussing this issue for most of today.

I hope a resolution can be made soon.

Cobb County Solicitor General Barry Morgan told Cobb County Communications Director Ross Cavitt that cases in the system prior to the Governor’s signing of the bill will go on as normal.

Cases in the pipeline since the signing of the bill on May 10 will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Morgan said the GBI is working on a test that will differentiate marijuana from hemp.

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