Alderman Johnson pushes to lessen pot penalties in Savannah

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On Monday, City of Savannah Alderman Van Johnson said he would draft an ordinance for the rest of the Council to consider that "reduce the penalty for individuals carrying less than 1 ounce of marijuana from the current maximum rate of $1,000 to $150."

Johnson said, "I would also propose eliminating jail time for those individuals and reducing punishment to a citation within Savannah City limits," citing the recent similar move this month by the City of Atlanta.

Johnson refrains from using the word decriminalization, saying, "This proposal does not minimize the fact that marijuana is still illegal in Georgia and does not decriminalize it, which is not be allowed under the State law; however, I believe that it does spare many young people (and some older people) of the arrest and arrest records that make it difficult to obtain employment, housing or to attend school."

Johnson will propose that 20% of the fines collected be earmarked "to offset the cost of drug treatment for those who want to seek it."

Mayor Eddie DeLoach has said he will reserve judgment until he hears the opinion of local law enforcement on the matter.


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