A new Savannah Marijuana law went into effect July 1st.
The new legislation changes the punishment for simple marijuana possession.
“I think we needed this. All we have been seeing jails fill up with people for a little marijuana,” said Tray Brown.
According to the new law, if a person is found with less than an ounce of pot, a Savannah Police Officer has the option to issue a ticket worth up to $150.
“It frees up our police officers and gives them the opportunity to really deal with violent crimes. We are experiencing a 16 percent drop in crime. So, I think in this case it makes criminal justice sense and social justice sense,” said Savannah Alderman Van Johnson.
Johnson sponsored the legislation. He says this is the start of a new chapter in Savannah.
“Marijuana in Georgia is illegal, but we just think for this type of crime and this instance, young people’s lives should not be destroyed because of this issue,” said Johnson.
A key part of this legislation is how the money collected from the fines will be used. Johnson says 20% of the fine revenue will go to local drug treatment programs.
“People who want help can now get the help. We know marijuana, like somethings can be addictive and so if someone wants help and wants to turn their life around, then we want to provide a path out of that addiction,” said Johnson.
Johnson says the small change in the law will make a big impact.
“We were able to do this locally and now Savannah is the first city in this area to be able to do it. We certainly hope we won’t be the last,” said Johnson.
A Savannah Police Officer still has the option of making an arrest if they see fit. It will vary on a case by case basis.
The new law is only valid within Savannah City Limits.