Misdemeanor marijuana charges dropped in Gwinnett County

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More than 100 cases of drug possession are being dismissed by the Gwinnett County Solicitor General.

A memo from Solicitor General Brian Whiteside says prosecutors don’t have tests that can tell the difference between marijuana and hemp. That becomes an issue now that Georgia recently passed a law legalizing hemp. Whiteside says, “I cannot prosecute these cases because there’s no difference, scientifically, between hemp and marijuana.”

In order for him to successfully prosecute someone for drug charges, Whiteside says the substance must be tested to make sure it is an illegal drug and not a legal hemp product. Right now, he says a certifiable test does not exist.

“There’s no machine really, that I know, that is certifiable at this time in Georgia,” Whiteside said.

Whiteside also hopes this could be the beginning of legalizing marijuana completely. He says, “I would basically ask that legislators move back to session or come January and legalize marijuana and let that money be used for Pre-K.”

But county District Attorney Danny Porter says that won’t happen under his watch.

“I’m not going to change anything about my position because I know that there are tests available. We will have them available very quickly and so I’m not prepared to dismiss any cases,” says Porter.

Porter says he is actively working to make sure a test will become available soon. He says that way, people with felony charges for illegal drugs don’t get a free pass.

“Marijuana is still illegal in Georgia, the law didn’t change that,” Porter says.

Porter says he doesn’t want people to get the wrong idea about what appears to be a loophole in the law. He says, “It is a technological issue that’s being very quickly solved.”

Meanwhile, the county is working with police departments in Gwinnett. They will not arrest people for misdemeanor marijuana charges. Instead, they will issue citations.