However, if someone decides to pay the fine, they do not have to appear in front of a court judge. Fines for an ounce or less of marijuana possession in the state of Georgia can go up to $1,000. In Pooler, the fine is $400.
Any charges involving more than an ounce of marijuana possession are considered a felony in Georgia and would automatically fall under the purview of the county Superior Court.
Earlier this May, Chatham County District Attorney Shalena Cook Jones announced that her office would generally stop prosecuting cases of marijuana possession of less than one ounce, following the move of other jurisdictions in Georgia. The change comes after a Georgia Bureau of Investigation bulletin stated the agency would not test for small amounts of marijuana unless other felony charges are involved, and without a verified test, the state cannot prove that someone violated the law, said Jones.
Jones also pointed to a 2019 Georgia law that legalized hemp farming, which made it difficult for law enforcement to differentiate between legal hemp plants and marijuana as testing is limited at the local level.
A heavy backlog of cases caused by the COVID-19 pandemic continues to plague the District Attorney’s office as well.
“Our highest priority as prosecutors is to focus on those crimes which present the greatest risk to public safety and good order,” Jones said in the May release. “Disposing of low-level, petty offenses that do not threaten public safety and do not involve a…