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Athens-Clarke County votes to decriminalize marijuana to $35 fine

They hope the new ordinance will help decriminalize the possession of marijuana amounts that are less than one ounce.

ATLANTA — Athens-Clarke County commissioners voted Tuesday to adopt a new ordinance that hopes to decriminalize marijuana in the county.

As part of this new ordinance, the penalty for possession of marijuana amounts that are less than one ounce will be a citation and a $35 fine. Commissioners initially voted for a $1 fine but had to raise it, citing tax reasons.

It passed in an eight to one vote.

Earlier in the week, Athens Clarke County District 5 Commissioner Tim Denson told 11Alive this move will help to lower the number of unnecessary people in jail. 

"Many of us on the commission did felt that we should not be criminalizing marijuana here in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, especially when it's legalized in so much of the country," he added.

Still, the decision did not come without some pushback from individuals in the community. 

However, Denton told 11Alive that they "did not hear any kind of valid arguments for why we should not do this."

He added "our law enforcement officers can focus more on those harmful, dangerous drugs like fentanyl and heroin, and try to actually cut down on the uses of those drugs rather than getting distracted with focusing on, again, low-level amounts under an ounce of marijuana."

Read documents below that outline the commission's recommendations and policy:

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