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Marijuana offenders are seeing lighter sentences

Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013 5:34 PM
Last updated Monday, Sept. 9, 2013 12:09 AM
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Local police say they are watching marijuana prosecutions diminish elsewhere in the country but won’t alter their procedures until state laws change.

Last month, the U.S. Jus­tice Department announced that it would not challenge marijuana legalization laws in Colorado and Washington state. Richmond County sheriff’s Sgt. Greg Meagher, of the Nar­cotics Division, said the effects of those laws can already be felt in Augusta.

“(Trafficking) has always gone on, but now we’ve gotten an influx of it,” he said.

Though possession, production and distribution of marijuana remains illegal in Geor­gia and South Carolina, law enforcement officers say they can take a practical approach.

Felony charges are prosecuted aggressively in Rich­mond County, Meagher said, but it’s not uncommon for first-time offenders to simply be given a ticket and pay a fine.

“We still make arrests, but most of them, if the person has a driver’s license and is a local resident, we will just write them a citation to magistrate court and let them go,” he said. “If they don’t have ID or if they have other charges along with the marijuana, then we’ll go ahead and send it to state court and we’ll go ahead and arrest them.”

Meagher said nine times out of 10 there is another offense accompanying the possession charge. Violators are most often stopped on traffic charges, but sometimes they’ll be caught distributing another drug, such as cocaine, while in possession of marijuana.

“We do ... find people that just really aren’t doing anything,” he said. “They’ve just got a joint on them or they’re silly enough to stand on the corner and smoke it instead of sitting in their house and smoking it.”

Misdemeanor charges could lead to up to a year in jail, but Meagher said the maximum penalty is usually reserved for offenders with “a pretty substantial history.”

First-time offenders will most likely receive probation. Felony cases can draw up to 10 years of jail time, but Meagher said such charges are often reserved for repeat offenders.

Aiken County sheriff’s Capt. Eric Abdullah said a similar policy is used in his jurisdiction.

“It all depends on the situation,” he said. “Each case is handled by the individual officer. It depends on the cooperation of the individual, and has nothing to do with weight (of the marijuana).”

Abdullah said he recalls pulling over someone on a traffic violation and noticing a marijuana cigarette rolled up in the passenger seat. After reading the driver his rights, Abdullah said he was given permission to search the vehicle.

After not finding any other illegal substances, and after the driver admitted the cigarette was his, Abdullah said he had enough to make a judgment call.

“So I just wrote him a ticket and said, ‘I’ll see you in court,’” he said.

In Columbia County, those Richmond and Aiken offenses would result in a trip to the detention center, sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris said.

For years, the county wrote tickets like its metro Augusta counterparts, Morris said, but the practice was challenged in court, causing the sheriff’s office to adopt its current practice of taking all offenders – misdemeanor or felony – to jail to be processed and bonded.

He said the sheriff’s office used to issue uniform traffic citations, which would then send violators through probate court.

“It may change in the future, but as of right now, we do not issue citations,” he said. “In every case they are booked and bonded.”

As for Richmond County, Meagher said it’s ultimately up to the courts to decide how the law is enforced.

“We go to them and ask them, ‘Can’t we just write a ticket and if they have ID, send them to magistrate court or send them to state court and just let them go?’” he said. “For a while, the courts did not want us to do that. They wanted them committed that way there was due process. But now, some of it has to do with overcrowding of the jails.”

But until Georgia passes legislation of its own, Meagher said he doesn’t see the problem going away anytime soon.

“The sellers aren’t going to stop selling it as long as the buyers are going to keep buying,” he said. “It’s a double-edge sword. It’s like going into a drug neighborhood and trying to dry it up. You go after the dealers, but you have to go after the buyers, too.”

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GiantsAllDay
9593
Points
GiantsAllDay 09/08/13 - 09:29 pm
10
5
Which state will be the very

Which state will be the very last in the nation to decriminalize cannabis, South Carolina or Georgia?

Riverman1
84023
Points
Riverman1 09/09/13 - 03:55 am
10
4
Handwriting is on the Wall

The handwriting is on the wall. Decriminalize marijuana and other drugs. Use the billions of dollars saved to advertise against drug use and treat addicts. The war on drugs has been an abject failure that has spawned violent crime and gangs like nothing seen since Prohibition.

GiantsAllDay
9593
Points
GiantsAllDay 09/09/13 - 04:42 am
10
6
Riverman, while I admit that

Riverman, while I admit that you do see the big picture, I must remind you that any kind of human advancement in Georgia/South Carolina must be done in baby steps. The first step would be approving of cannabis for medical use. I have watched 2 loved ones lose their lives to the evil cancer. In the few months prior to the end, when they became skin and skeletons, we begged them with tears in our eyes, "PLEASE EAT SOMETHING"! but the appetite just wasn't there. Perhaps medical marijuana could have helped ease the suffering in the last days. In the above article, the Columbia county sheriffs office has admitted that they will throw in jail a dying cancer patient caught with even the smallest amount of marijuana, even if it is for to ease suffering. That, just in itself, is disgusting. When you take an oath, put on a badge and gun, do you also put your humanity on the shelf? Or is it the empty headed legislators under the Atlanta Gold Dome the ones without souls? Here is an article about a Utah mother who struggles between her mormon faith and and going to Colorado for medical marijuana to help her son. She could be a fundamentalist Christian in the CSRA or a Muslim in the Middle East--it's all the same.
http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/56788108-78/marijuana-utah-medical-sto...

CobaltGeorge
159025
Points
CobaltGeorge 09/09/13 - 05:52 am
3
9
Heck,

Legalize the damn stuff! The way "Strung Out" America is right now, accepting the attitude of our Leaders and their supporters,
What Difference Will It Make.

jimmymac
39881
Points
jimmymac 09/09/13 - 07:47 am
1
0
WEED
Unpublished

People say using weed is harmless and should be legalized. tell that to the baby who died in his dad's car while he was smoking weed.

chascushman
6653
Points
chascushman 09/09/13 - 08:53 am
5
10
The problem with legalizing
Unpublished

The problem with legalizing pot is smoking pot makes a person dumber. When person become dumber they become more liberal.

Augustaisdying
526
Points
Augustaisdying 09/09/13 - 09:38 am
0
1
The problem with the GOP
Unpublished

The problem with voting Republican is voting Republican makes a person dumber. When "person" become dumber, they lose the ability to use correct grammar.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 09/09/13 - 10:02 am
4
10
What's next?

Boundaries have become so blurred on what is socially and publicly acceptable since legalizing alcohol, I'm not so sure about using that factor as a good argument for legalization.

Part of the desire for the drug is that it is forbidden. When pot becomes common place and it no longer meets the desired effect of getting high either through the drug or the "fun felony", what's next?

The medicinal factor is also bogus. There are plenty of medications that relieve pain and stimulate the appetite. Furthermore, when we are dying, we don't need food. The body has a natural process for death.

We don't need anything to deaden our senses, our hearts, and make us more self centered. We need to be fully alive, so that when we kick the world, we can feel it kicking back.

Our problem is we long for a life of comfort and convenience rather than facing our problems of which our greatest is.... looking for value in all the wrong places.

The more we try to fix things without following the teachings of Christ, the bigger our mess becomes. If we will turn to God, he will heal us and we will not need drugs to make us feel good or government to tell us how to live.

oldredneckman96
5095
Points
oldredneckman96 09/09/13 - 02:33 pm
4
2
Pot
Unpublished

If there were a medical use for pot, the “big pharmacy companies” as the pot heads call them, they would be all over it and you would see it in CVS on every street corner. Real Doctors could write real prescriptions for it. However, it has no real medical use, therefore in States that have ignored it (they have no authority to legalize it) you get a “doctors recommendation” and buy it in an abandoned gas station. Now, we as a country are trying to stop people from smoking tobacco, in a State where way too many college students just threw away their future at a ballgame on booze, do we need to let one more addictive substance out of the bag? With our Country falling to the bottom of the world in every ranking do we need to have stoners on every street corner?

Riverman1
84023
Points
Riverman1 09/09/13 - 03:02 pm
5
2
Carrots said, "Chascushman

Carrots said, "Chascushman and Willow,

I'm glad two fine citizens as knowledgeable as yourself have shared their errant and misinformed opinion. Please continue to spread your ignorance so that we all can benefit!"

Ya got a grammatical mistake in there, wise one.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 09/09/13 - 02:46 pm
4
1
LOL, River, I'm not sure it's

LOL, River, I'm not sure it's "mahogany" he's smelling in his study!

CARROTSABROAD
79
Points
CARROTSABROAD 09/09/13 - 02:56 pm
1
1
"LOL, River, I'm not sure
Unpublished

"LOL, River, I'm not sure it's "mahogany" he's smelling in his study!"

LOL GOOD ONE! YA GOT ME!

Riverman1
84023
Points
Riverman1 09/09/13 - 03:01 pm
3
1
Willow handled that

Willow handled that exceptionally well.

wmarkw
164
Points
wmarkw 09/09/13 - 03:20 pm
2
3
meh I dont want to debate

meh I dont want to debate this but Willow your argument is very ignorant. But for you to say "There are plenty of medications that relieve pain." If you are referring to the addictive pain killers that do in fact KILL and are abused MORE than cannabis then yup you are right. There are pros/cons everywhere. I suggest you read this and watch the video. But if I read your comment correctly then I can assume you do not partake in alcohol? Alcohol abuse and pain killer abuse kill people. The devil weed does not. There is abundant evidence that supports the health benefits of this plant. Its there, but you need to put down that bible do some real research. http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/08/health/gupta-changed-mind-marijuana

wmarkw
164
Points
wmarkw 09/09/13 - 03:28 pm
4
2
How is it promoted for

How is it promoted for use?
THC and marijuana are promoted to relieve pain, control nausea and vomiting, and stimulate appetite in people with cancer and AIDS. Researchers also report that THC decreases pressure within the eyes, therefore reducing the severity of glaucoma.

Some supporters claim that marijuana has anti-bacterial properties, inhibits tumor growth, and enlarges the airways, which they believe can ease the severity of asthma attacks. Others claim that marijuana can be used to control seizures and muscle spasms in people who have epilepsy and spinal cord injuries.

http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryan...

wmarkw
164
Points
wmarkw 09/09/13 - 03:30 pm
3
2
Here is another good read

Here is another good read when you pop your next pain killer!!!

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/07/28/deadly-epidemic-...

wmarkw
164
Points
wmarkw 09/09/13 - 03:39 pm
2
2
Oh and who cant forget our

Oh and who cant forget our good ole gov't mandating that all farmers grow hemp to help win WWII??? Oh yeah there are no THC properties in Hemp but yet its still illegal and a class 1 drug. Wonder why!?? Its a miracle plant. Put a lot of people (see mega corps) out of business! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nI3Kvh6GlLA

burninater
9583
Points
burninater 09/09/13 - 05:19 pm
2
1
"If there were a medical use

"If there were a medical use for pot, the “big pharmacy companies” as the pot heads call them, they would be all over it and you would see it in CVS on every street corner."
-----
Incorrect. If there were a PATENTABLE medical use for pot, the "big pharmacy companies" would be all over it. THC is too commonly known and distributed to be patentable, or to allow control of supply to the extent that pricing is immune to market forces. Big Pharma has no incentive to produce it, as big profits lie in the pricing and supply control allowed by patents.

Do you know what the single greatest medical product on the planet is? Water. Guess why Big Pharma's not all over it?

justthefacts
21896
Points
justthefacts 09/09/13 - 04:45 pm
2
2
DOJ

"Last month, the U.S. Jus­tice Department announced that it would not challenge marijuana legalization laws in Colorado and Washington state." When did it become OK for the Justice Dept to refuse to enforce Federal Laws?

Little Lamb
46022
Points
Little Lamb 09/09/13 - 05:30 pm
3
1
Government by exception

The Obama regime chooses which laws to enforce and which laws to ignore. So far, they're ignoring immigration laws, DOMA laws, and marijuana laws. More are likely on the way.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 09/09/13 - 05:52 pm
3
1
So if one doesn't subscribe

So if one doesn't subscribe to using or legalizing pot, they must surely be a pill popper or ignorant. That makes perfect sense.

wmarkw, you forgot to add how smoking pot helps preschoolers read quicker.

burninater
9583
Points
burninater 09/09/13 - 06:17 pm
1
0
JTF, the statement of intent

JTF, the statement of intent not to enforce Federal law by the executive branch goes back to President Jefferson, believe it or not. This is not an innovation.

It has been sustained by the Supreme Court, particularly if it is a case where the executive feels enforcement of a law would violate the oath to uphold the Constitution (i.e., the Constitutionality of a law has not yet been determined by a Supreme Court decision, but the executive has reason to believe it would be found unconstitutional).

Another factor in this issue is the fact that law enforcement resources are not infinite. In a world of infinite supply, an executive would have zero rationale to not enforce a Constitutional law. However, resources are not infinite, and it is already an operative fact that the executive branch has not for decades, if EVER, applied law enforcement resources to every Federal crime that exists. This selective allocation of finite resources to uphold specific objectives is also not an innovation.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 09/09/13 - 06:33 pm
3
2
Mind Fuzz

Marijuana usage is a cagey thing. It's effects slip up on you unlike alcohol and other drugs that hit hard and let you know that you are out of control. THC remains in the body for 20 to 40 days. Therefore a weekend user is always stoned. Marijuana distorts reality. It's a head drug. If the government places its stamp of approval on this drug, our youth has no chance.

It's no surprise to me that this shameful administration would support its legitimacy.

ZaneX
6
Points
ZaneX 09/09/13 - 08:04 pm
2
1
This drama is just beginning

First: Federal law against Marijuana is a Lie; Plain and simple no educated man can argue against this claim
Second: Marijuana is not going to turn you into a fiend of any kind.
Third: the system is broken, the system of the Feds paying local LEO's for enforcing this Prohibition.
Fourth: The system is taking productive members of society and turning them in to non productive criminals.
Fifth: More and more states are legalizing marijuana for "medical Use" which is a slap in the face to the Federal law against it. If you have a half a brain, this is the proof in the puddin.

You may not like it, as I don't like alcohol but that doesn't give anyone power to make people who use marijuana a criminal
I have known lawyer and doctors and teachers all walks of life that have used marijuana and the only bad thing I can think of is the bad breath from smoking or the bloviating stories which can get stupid. non of which are Dangerous!

least we not forget this note:Lord God says don't be a drunkard or worship anything before him. Keep you temple pure for the spirit. If your walk with Lord God says no Marijuana then that between you and your maker. Not for your neighbor or your church or the authorities.

TrukinRanger
1748
Points
TrukinRanger 09/09/13 - 08:00 pm
0
0
Marijuana laws are archaic.
Unpublished

Marijuana laws are archaic. Just as prohibition they only make more criminals. On the subject of medical marijuana- if you are against using it, then don't. Just use the pills. I'd rather stick to something 100% NATURAL. As for recreational use- it's a lot safer than alcohol, makes you jolly, have the munchies, settles your stomach, calms & relaxes.

Laws against it's use is only aiding the criminal element. Look at these cartels who smuggle it into this country. They enslave, prostitute, threaten, kill, bribe - if we legalized it, we could tax it, buy it somewhere safe and these cartels will have a big chunk of their business taken away from them. I also believe, with it being legal -those who take harder drugs may not do so as much.

nocnoc
42654
Points
nocnoc 09/09/13 - 08:26 pm
2
2
Stupid over the Top Laws

enacted based on Fear films and Businesses trying to kill the HEMP paper industry because of investments in Paper mills.

Fred Russell , you want to really rake in some TAX $$$$.
See what Washington & Colorado estimates they ill collect in taxes this year. Their tax revenue on Legalize marijuana is using "LIBERAL USERS"
estimates ranged as high as $2 billion over five years. That is
$200million per state.

MORE CONSERVATIVE ESTIMATES ARE:
$60 million per year per state.

WOW instead of 90 years of losing the war on marijuana use and
spending $$$billions$$$ in the process only to see continued use.
Maybe it is time to shift gears and agree this version of Probation Failed also.

So tax it like alcohol.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 09/09/13 - 10:39 pm
2
2
So we should legitimize

So we should legitimize anything that can be turned into profit?

ZaneX
6
Points
ZaneX 09/09/13 - 11:11 pm
0
0
Its called voting

like the lottery? or maybe you mean double taxation? or maybe you mean over regulation...maybe you mean Obamacare? uum marrital divorce?? How about Insurance? 0 I know! your talking about the new marriage laws happening around the country?

Just depends on what the people want- Aye-Na- savvy

nocnoc
42654
Points
nocnoc 09/10/13 - 07:48 am
1
0
No, not for the sake of profits,

Just think of the 1920's Alcohol Prohibition era and the organized crime problems it created. There is a parallel here.

The USA has and is spending 100's $Billion$ on fighting the war on drugs and a vast majority of the stuff by weight, coming in was marijuana imports from Mexico and smaller countries. This is 1 example of our Lack of Secure Borders. Did you know many Illegals crossing our borders are being forced to carry a few pounds of marijuana as a fee by the coyotes?

I'd like to see a greater focus on stopping Addictive drugs and the Addictive Drug Dealers.

I have been a long proponent of using to confiscated addictive drug dealer funds and assets to treat the addicted users and street corner justice (shooting) for documented Addictive Drug Lords and major dealers.

One problem I immediately see.
Currently the confiscated money and assets are funneled into various Law Enforcement budgets. This have some pro's but the down side is LEO's just create a cycle where they repeatedly re-arrest the already addicted junkie who is still stealing to feed a habit, and that could have, should have been detox'd.

But here is where I am faced with a conundrum.
Every argument I commonly hear against the use of marijuana can equally be applied to alcohol consumption. We have seen what happen when we made alcohol illegal, and we have been seeing the same thing happen for 80+ years concerning marijuana.

So yes, even though I don't use either, I fail to see why legal penalties for 1 should not apply to the other.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 09/10/13 - 10:44 am
0
1
Alcohol has a WALL!

Marijuana does NOT!
There is a huge difference between alcohol and marijuana usage. Alcohol, at least has walls. Drinking doesn't necessarily mean mind altering. It's possible to drink without getting high. Most people can socially consume alcohol and not get drunk. The moral and social consensus is that drinking is acceptable but drunkenness is not. Again, another wall.

Marijuana is always a mind altering drug...It's a head drug; a little sister to LSD. Under its influence, every message to the brain is distorted. It is not an enhancer, but an intensifier. Emotions such as anger, rejection, guilt, fear and hatred are magnified by its usage. It is a cheap escape of reality. There is no wall of protection. You can mow the lawn and drink a cold beer; you can't smoke a cold joint and do the same. The only reason to smoke a joint is to get high and mentally check out.

Getting drunk produces a logical consequence...the next day you are punished with a hangover...and the effects of alcohol leave the body within 24 hours. Marijuana stays in the body for 20 to 40 days. A part time smoker is always high to some extent. Do you want your child, your child's teacher, your anaesthesiologist or surgeon, your government leaders, law enforcement, etc to be perpetually high?

We have no idea of the long term effects and damage to brain cells through the intake of THC or the other 400 chemicals that are present in this mixture. Add to that the new trend of mixing other dangerous drugs with the concoction.

Alcohol had been ingrained in our culture for thousands of years in literature and history. It was always a losing battle. It is not too late to educate people of the dangers of marijuana and send a clear message to our youth that a mind is a terrible thing to waste!

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