Mayor says marijuana should be treated like traffic ticket

CLARKSTON, Ga. — A local city council is considering a policy that would decriminalize 1 ounce or less of marijuana.

Clarkston’s mayor told Channel 2’s Erica Byfield that he wants the crime to be treated like a traffic ticket. The proposal on the table right now is for a $5 fine. %

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Mayor Ted Terry told Byfield the way Georgia is dealing with marijuana isn't working, and it's time for a change.

“This is still a controversial issue. At some point it’s going to take a city council, county commission, mayor or elected officials to step up and do something,” he said. “It’s obvious the war on drugs has been a failure.”

Terry says he and his City Council are willing to take that leap forward to be the first municipality in Georgia to decriminalize less than an ounce of marijuana.

He says the state legislature passed a statute in 1983 that makes it possible.

“It gives the municipal court system the ability to treat it as a municipal court fine as opposed to a state court violation,” Terry said.

The proposal is now in the hands of the city's public safety committee.

Terry says having marijuana will still be illegal. It is the penalty that may change. If approved, violators would just have to pay the fine.

“We don’t want to ruin someone's life for something that is as harmless as being in possession of a very small amount,” he said.

Last year Clarkston police arrested 70 people for having 1 ounce or less of marijuana.

“I don’t want our police officers to spend their time worrying about low-level nonviolent drug offenses. I’m more concerned about stopping violent crime and burglaries in Clarkston,” he said.

The full City Council could vote on this in May.