Gwinnett County police announced Monday they will no longer arrest people or issue citations for misdemeanor marijuana cases.
The decision comes after the county’s Solicitor General Brian Whiteside said his office would no longer prosecute marijuana cases that occurred after May 10.
In a letter to county judges on Friday, Whiteside cited confusion about the state's new hemp farming act, which went into effect this year.
“There's no point now that we can say there's a legitimate test that shows what the THC levels are in a plant,” Whiteside said.
The amount of the chemical present is what separates legal hemp from recreational marijuana. State law says hemp must have a THC concentration of 0.3 percent of lower, whereas recreational marijuana has concentrations of 10-35%.
But Gwinnett County labs can only test for the presence of THC and not the concentration, according to its police department.
“There’s no machine right now that’s certified, that I know of, by the state of Georgia,” Whiteside said. “So, it might take a year or so to get the machine certified. In the meantime, those people would be in jail or have to have a bond coming back and forth to court. It would be unfair to them if you couldn’t prove that it was marijuana.”
Whiteside said they have already thrown out hundreds of cases and plan to throw out many more. He said he has an “ethical duty” to do so because it wouldn’t be a successful prosecution.
That doesn’t mean people are off the hook for driving under the influence of marijuana. Police can still arrest you if they suspect you’re driving high and Whiteside said that can be proven using blood tests.
Gwinnett police also issued a warning reminding the public that possession and use of marijuana is still illegal under state law.