Macon-Bibb County held a town hall meeting Tuesday to air opinions on a measure that could make Macon the next Georgia community to punish some marijuana possession with a fine instead of a criminal charge.
There was little opposition during an hour of public comment to the proposed measure which would punish possession of up to an ounce of marijuana (about 40 joints) with a $75 fine.
As it stands now, the charge could end in a misdemeanor conviction, something that can complicate getting a job or finding housing.
The county’s top law enforcement officials shared their opinion of the planned change once the public was done.
Macon-Bibb District Attorney David Cooke compared the change in penalty for possession to a preemptive clearing of criminal records.
“When we enable well meaning people who have youthful mistakes on their record to more fully participate in our society, we all benefit,” Cooke said. “And the proof is in the pudding. The proof is in the crime rate. The proof is in our productivity.”
Sheriff David Davis said his officers have already been instructed to go easy on people with small amounts of marijuana. The $75 dollar fine would make that county policy.
“I am for anything that can help someone lessen the load that they have to carry for the rest of their life on a minor offense such as this marijuana,” Davis said.
Missing from the meeting were the county commission members who have already signaled their opposition to the effort. That suggests the vote on the new marijuana fine could be tight at the next Macon-Bibb Commission meeting on May 21.