Cannabis leaves and handcuffs

Gwinnett DELAYS Vote to Reduce Harm of Cannabis Arrests

The Gwinnett County commissioners who were expected to vote on a decriminalization ordinance this week have delayed the vote until early December.

After an earlier 2-3 vote that would have rejected the change, the commissioners voted 3-2 to revisit decriminalization in early December.

According to coverage in the Gwinnett Daily Post, “Commission Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson and Commissioner Jasper Watkins voted against making the change and against postponing a final decision. Commission Vice-Chairwoman Marlene Fosque voted against making the change, but did vote to postpone a final decision on the matter.”

Hendrickson said she hadn’t seen sufficient evidence that the change was required, and worried that decriminalization sent a message “that Gwinnett County is condoning marijuana use.”

55 percent of Chairwoman Hendrickson’s constituents believe cannabis should be fully legal for adult use. Further, her district contains bars, liquor stores, cigar shops, and cigarette counters – all of which deal in psychoactive substances which pose more threat to public health than does cannabis.

In the meantime, Gwinnett County police may continue to arrest people (mostly young men of color) for small amounts of cannabis, saddling them with a life-changing criminal record and sometimes tethering them to the criminal justice system for decades.

The common-sense harm reduction ordinance proposed in Gwinnett by Commissioner Kirkland Carden would mirror similar reforms in 14 other Georgia municipalities. Criminalization of cannabis has radically different impact across the socioeconomic and demographic landscape of Georgia, with poor, working class, and minority Georgians suffering most under outdated drug laws and punitive sentencing.

Peachtree NORML will continue to encourage the Commissioners to consider the overwhelming evidence from both pharmacology and public safety which support harm reduction. Not only cannabis users, but communities as a whole, benefit from ending the unjust criminalization of drug possession.

See our previous coverage from the October’s Commission meeting.

Read Peachtree NORML’s full recommendation (sent to the Board and Commission back in April) here:

Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners
 Nicole Love Hendrickson – Voted AGAINST

Commissioner Kirkland Carden – Sponsor, Voted FOR
[Sponsor: send love and kudos for moving this change forward!]
District 1: Duluth, Suwanee, Sugar Hill, and portions of Norcross

Commissioner Ben Ku – Voted AGAINST
District 2: Peachtree Corners, Berkeley Lake, Norcross, Tucker, and Lilburn

Commissioner Jasper Watkins III – Voted FOR
District 3: Braselton, Auburn, Dacula, Grayson, Loganville, Snellville, and parts of Lawrenceville

Commissioner Marlene M. Fosque – Voted AGAINST
District 3: Lawrenceville, Buford, and Rest Haven; parts of Braselton and Sugar Hill.