Bibb Sheriff: Marijuana legalization should be discussed at federal level
MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Bibb County Sheriff David Davis thinks the conversation about legalizing medical marijuana needs to happen at a federal level.
Sheriff Davis wants to help those who need this medicine, but said as a law enforcement officer his job is to uphold the law and right now, marijuana is against the law. State Representative Allen Peake is including tougher criminal penalties for people who violate the proposed law in his bill. However, it’s not enough to convince the Georgia Sheriff’s Association this is a step we need to take.
The Georgia Sheriff’s Association has repeatedly expressed its opposition for Peake’s push for medical marijuana in Georgia.
“Right now, as it stands in the state of Georgia, marijuana is illegal. As it stands in the federal level, marijuana is illegal,” said Sheriff Davis.
House Bill 722 is Peake’s attempt to expand the state’s medical marijuana law. It proposed a model for growing the drug in Georgia. Peake is including a provision in the bill that creates tougher penalties for people who violate the proposed law.
“The hope is that you would have more jail time and tougher penalties for violating, and stealing, and trying to distribute from a licensed facility than you would if you just bought off the normal drug dealer on the street,” explained Peake.
Sheriff Davis believes Peake is adding this in because he wants to make the bill more appealing to law enforcement. He said the idea can send the wrong message.
“On one end you have a medicinal product made from marijuana that you’re going to put a higher penalty on for someone possessing, but then you’re lessening the penalty for a small amount of illegal marijuana,” said Sheriff Davis.
Peake is still working on the final details of the provision.
“The intent is that, that same line where drug possession crosses from a misdemeanor to a felony would even be lowered for someone who would potentially try and steal marijuana or obtain marijuana from a licensed facility,” explained Peake.
Sheriff Davis said if someone is caught with less than an ounce of marijuana, it’s a misdemeanor charge.
“You may get a citation. As the law stands now, you may get taken to jail, you may get a fine or probation. If it’s over a certain amount, then it’s considered that you’re distributing,” explained Sheriff Davis.
Sheriff Davis believes as long as marijuana is illegal on a federal level, the Georgia Sheriff’s Association will be opposed to this bill.
The Georgia House of Representatives Judiciary Non-Civil Committee is planning to meet again Friday morning to hear testimony from those who are against HB 722.