Gov. Deal On Clarkston Marijuana Decriminalization Plans

Gov. Nathan Deal says it is not up to the state legislature to take action on a plan in Clarkston to decriminalize marijuana.

The small DeKalb County city, led by its Democratic Mayor Ted Terry, is working on reducing the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana there.

The move has led to legal questions over the city’s ability to go against state law, which calls for up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine for possessing an ounce or less of marijuana.

Terry said the city council is exploring the idea of a $5 ticket for possession with no arrest.

“We should not have any municipality or jurisdiction of state government saying that they’re willing to flaunt the law to downgrade or excuse what is otherwise criminal conduct,” said Gov. Nathan Deal Wednesday. “I do not approve of that and I do not agree with the posture they are apparently trying to take.”

But Deal said he does not think lawmakers should step in to stop decriminalization in Clarkston.

“I don’t think it’s necessary for the legislature to take action on that,” he said. “I think state and federal law enforcement officers will take care of that without us intervening.”

Deal said he would not suggest that the GBI make enforcement in Clarkston a priority.

“Most of that responsibility falls on local law enforcement, it would be the sheriff’s office of the county,” he said.

Deal added that the federal government could also step in, but that the chances of that were “remote.”

The DeKalb County sheriff’s office did not respond to calls Wednesday afternoon.

The city of Clarkston public safety committee will meet Friday at 5 p.m. to discuss decriminalization.