DeKalb County commissioners look into decriminalizing marijuana

Source: WGCL

DeKalb County may follow Atlanta's lead in the punishment handed down for possession of marijuana.

Right now, anyone caught with marijuana in the county is subject to huge fines and possible jail time. But county commissioners are looking to change that.

DeKalb County commissioner Jeff Rader recently sent a proposal to the state of Georgia, asking them to allow counties to make up their own rules dealing with a drug that's currently in the same category as heroin and cocaine.

"We believe that the county has a fundamental responsibility to both try to suppress unproductive behavior but also try to not make a lifestyle crime into something that really hurts people's chances in life," Rader told CBS46 News.

Rader would like to see the punishment for possession of marijuana in the county changed to a non-criminal offense, much like receiving a traffic ticket.

Tom McCain spent part of his law enforcement career busting people for growing pot. Now, he's advocating its use.

"I think it's a great idea. I don't think it goes far enough. I think we should go ahead and legalize it," says McCain.

McCain is a former police officer turned marijuana advocate. He believes arresting someone for marijuana can unfairly ruin their life and it also takes police officers away from focusing on more important crimes.

"I would always be taking folks into the jail and helping with the booking process," said McCain. "It took me away from what I thought I should be doing, like taking drunks off the road."

Not everyone is on board with the idea. Some people are concerned that lowering the punishment for pot possession could lead to an increase of people driving under the influence of it. That's something DeKalb County commissioners say they're working to address.

But first, the General Assembly has to pass the proposal.

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