Seventy people were arrested last weekend in Georgia for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana when police could not identify the actual owner of the marijuana at a house party in Bartow County, Georgia.
News of apparent gunshots fired at the scene of a party brought Cartersville police to the house. The police arrived in the front yard when they smelled marijuana and entered the home. They uncovered two stolen guns, less than an ounce of marijuana in separate packages, and paraphernalia scattered through the rooms on the first-floor.
The attendees rented the Air BnB house for a 21st birthday party, and the Cartersville police arrested all attendees because no one would claim the marijuana as their own.
This is an incredible waste of resources – taking custody and processing 70 individuals for an amount of marijuana belonging to only a few people. Many people are shocked and offended at the arbitrary arrests of these party-goers. Some of them have already lost their jobs as a result of the arrests. Many of the people arrested were most likely innocent of the Possession of Marijuana charge and, regardless of this fact, they were still detained in this outrageous display of misused resources. They continue to wait for a decision from the district attorney on whether or not the charges will be dropped or if the county will continue to squander resources by individually charging all 70 people for less than an ounce of marijuana.
Georgia Marijuana Laws
In Georgia, a Possession of Marijuana charge for 1 ounce or less is considered a Misdemeanor with an incarceration duration of 1 year and a maximum fine of $1,000.
The Georgia Controlled Substances Act regulates marijuana. Illegal drugs are considered controlled substances, and Georgia Law classifies them into five different schedules. Hashish and other concentrates containing more than fifteen percent of THC by volume are a Schedule I substance by the Georgia Controlled Substances Act.
You can receive a Possession of Marijuana charge even if you are not personally holding the marijuana itself. If you are found to be in control of the marijuana, then you are considered to be in possession of it.
Thirty different states along with D.C. now have laws that broadly legalize marijuana. Eight of those states have expansively legalized marijuana for recreational use. Many states have legalized a limited use of medical marijuana.
With all the news of decriminalization and legalization in individual states, many believe that the new ordinance in Atlanta decriminalizes and legalizes a small amount of marijuana.
Marijuana is still illegal in Georgia. The new ordinance passed within the city of Atlanta only reduces jail time and penalties for having a small amount of marijuana.
Defenses to the charges in this particular case:
For one thing, it is clearly obvious that 70 people did not "possess" one ounce of marijuana. There is clear case law on point in this matter. In Brown v. State 244 Ga. App. 400 (2000), our appellate courts ruled that merely occupying a home with contraband, where others have equal access, is insufficient evidence to convict someone of possessing said contraband. This is called the "Equal Access Defense in Georgia." The point is that the police have an obligation to do an investigation, rather than rounding up 70 people and trying to find a guilty party there within.
If you have been charged with a crime in Georgia, you need legal representation by a Georgia Criminal Lawyer. No offense is too small or big for us to handle. With over 50 combined years of experience, Lawson and Berry know exactly how to assist with your case. Contact us today for a free case evaluation. Our Georgia Criminal Defense Attorneys are here to help.
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