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1US GA: OPED: Becoming One Of 'Those People' After Addiction StruckSun, 01 Oct 2017
Source:Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) Author:Boccia, Kate Area:Georgia Lines:Excerpt Added:10/06/2017

I am a pretty quintessential middle-class American woman. My ancestry is Danish and English-maybe some Scottish somewhere. I'm just enough of a WASP to have some ancestors who fought in the Revolution. But I certainly didn't feel superior to the blue-collar Italian and Irish kids in the lower-middle-class neighborhood where I grew up - in fact, I would have laughed at the notion that, merely as white people, any of us were privileged. I reserved that term for the rich kids living in big houses across town. In my book, privilege meant you had a lot more than my family had.

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2US GA: Police Chief: New Law Doesn't Legalize PotWed, 04 Oct 2017
Source:Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) Author:Stafford, Leon Area:Georgia Lines:Excerpt Added:10/06/2017

You might want to think twice before you light up that joint in Piedmont Park or anywhere else in the city of Atlanta.

The drug is still illegal, despite Monday's move by the Atlanta City Council to eliminate jail time and reduce the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana, Atlanta Police Chief Erica Shields said Tuesday.

In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Shields said some media and advocates of cannabis decriminalization are confusing the public by suggesting the Council's action gives Atlanta residents permission to use pot without consequence.

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3US GA: Atlanta: No Jail For Pot PossessionTue, 03 Oct 2017
Source:Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) Author:Stafford, Leon Area:Georgia Lines:Excerpt Added:10/06/2017

The Atlanta City Council on Monday unanimously passed legislation eliminating jail time and reducing penalties on possession of small amounts of marijuana, but not before mayoral candidates got into heated debates and backers of the bill became rowdy.

The legislation, which was resurrected in September after spending months in committees because of concerns it might send the wrong message, brings Atlanta closer to other large cities across the nation that are either lessening penalties on pot or decriminalizing it altogether as Americans' opinions on the drug evolve.

It will reduce the financial penalty for possession of one ounce or less from up to $1,000 to a maximum of $75. Jail time, currently six months for possession, would be eliminated for an ounce or less.

[end]

4US GA: Georgia Welcomes Forfeiture Rule ReinstatementThu, 20 Jul 2017
Source:Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) Author:Ondieki, Anastaciah Area:Georgia Lines:Excerpt Added:07/20/2017

Georgia law enforcement agencies lost access to millions of dollars in potential funding when the U.S. Department of Justice in 2015 all but shut down a practice criticized as encouraging policing for profit.

Now state law enforcement leaders are welcoming U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' Wednesday announcement that the department is reinstating "adoptive forfeiture." Effective immediately, the federal government will help state and local police agencies keep cash or other assets they have seized on suspicion of ties to state crimes. Agencies can keep such property permanently even if no one is ever convicted.

New safeguards will help prevent abuses, the department said in a directive to U.S. attorneys and other Justice Department officials announcing the new policy.

[end]

5US GA: Student In Drug Search Felt 'violated'Sun, 11 Jun 2017
Source:Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) Author:Schrade, Brad Area:Georgia Lines:Excerpt Added:06/11/2017

A federal civil rights lawsuit filed last week against a south Georgia sheriff offers new details of the bizarre school-wide search of hundreds of students where deputies allegedly touched girls' breasts, vaginal areas and groped boys in their groins.

One of the nine Worth County High School students who filed the lawsuit, identified as K.P., told the AJC that the April 14 search was "very, very scary." She said the incident was stuck in her memory and it colored the rest of her senior year.

The day of the search, she said, students didn't know what was happening when an announcement was made early in the day that the school was on lock-down.

[end]

6US GA: Georgia, Feds Diverge On Policy For SentencingSat, 13 May 2017
Source:Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) Author:Bluestein, Greg Area:Georgia Lines:Excerpt Added:05/13/2017

Even as Gov. Nathan Deal was signing the latest batch of state laws designed to keep lower-level offenders out of prison, the Trump administration was preparing a crackdown seeking the toughest possible charges against offenders convicted of nonviolent drug violations.

The U.S. Justice Department released directives Friday that call for more mandatory minimum sentences and direct prosecutors to pursue the strictest punishments available. It was a sweeping shift in criminal justice policy, reversing Obama-era policies to reduce penalties for some nonviolent offenses.

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7US GA: Column: Atlanta's Pot Laws DiscriminateMon, 08 May 2017
Source:Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) Author:Torpy, Bill Area:Georgia Lines:Excerpt Added:05/08/2017

The Atlanta City Council is considering making the penalty for getting caught with pot similar to finding a parking ticket flapping on your windshield.

The effort is based on the idea that black residents are overwhelmingly the target of marijuana enforcement in the city, staining them with jail time, fines and arrest records that follow them in life.

The effort was put forward by Councilman Kwanza Hall, a mayoral candidate who has tried to carve out his place in the crowded mayor's race by pushing to do away with some quality-of-life offenses such as spitting, jay walking, idling and loitering - things one often does while smoking weed.

[end]

8US GA: Marijuana: Easing Laws Not So EasySun, 23 Apr 2017
Source:Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) Author:Stafford, Leon Area:Georgia Lines:Excerpt Added:04/26/2017

Atlanta wants to join a growing number of U.S. cities that are lowering the penalties for small amounts of marijuana use.

But leaders learned last week that getting there won't be easy.

The City Council sent legislation meant to lower fines and eliminate jail time for possession of an ounce or less of pot back to a committee last week after members had a host of questions. Chief among their concerns was whether there was buy-in from the Atlanta Police Department and city courts, two groups whose backing would be crucial to making such a plan work. Elected officials also fear that being too lenient would take away the deterrent of marijuana use.

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9US GA: City Puts Off Vote To Ease Pot PenaltyTue, 18 Apr 2017
Source:Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) Author:Stafford, Leon Area:Georgia Lines:Excerpt Added:04/21/2017

After more than 90 minutes of debate and no consensus, the Atlanta City Council on Monday put off a vote on a measure that would have eliminated jail time for those caught with small quantities of marijuana.

Advocates of the Atlanta legislation said the move is necessary to address the disproportionate number of black Americans incarcerated because of pot possession.

The proposal, which also would reduce the fine for possession of an ounce or less to a maximum of $75, mirrors actions taken in cities across the nation, including Dallas, Kansas City and St. Louis. In DeKalb County, Clarkson also has reduced penalties.

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10US GA: Compromise Reached On Medical PotFri, 17 Mar 2017
Source:Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) Author:Torres, Kristina Area:Georgia Lines:Excerpt Added:03/17/2017

Lawmakers appear to have reached a compromise Thursday that would expand Georgia's medical marijuana law.

The agreement over Senate Bill 16 would add six illnesses and conditions eligible for treatment with medical marijuana in Georgia to include Alzheimer's disease, AIDS, autism, epidermolysis bullosa, peripheral neuropathy and Tourette's syndrome. It would additionally allow use for patients in hospice care, according to both state Sen. Ben Watson, R-Savannah, and state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon.

It would also keep the maximum allowable THC percentage in the form of cannabis oil allowed here at 5 percent.

[end]

11US GA: Haleigh's HopeSun, 05 Mar 2017
Source:Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) Author:Kincaid, Adam Area:Georgia Lines:Excerpt Added:03/09/2017

Janea Cox, her husband Brian, their 7-year-old daughter Haleigh and their chocolate Lab Kala left their Forsyth home in December 2016 for their semi-annual trip to Colorado. They flew into Denver and made their way toward Colorado Springs in a rental car, squeezing the three of them, a wheelchair and the dog into the small, four-door sedan. A handicap-equipped van would have been better, but the economy ride was what they could afford.

The family checked into a budget hotel and went to sleep; not that they ever sleep well, or for very long. Young Haleigh was up through the night, as usual. She has epilepsy so severe she requires constant oversight. For most of her life, her young brain hasn't been seizure-free long enough to develop normally. So she gets around in a wheelchair, receives nourishment through a feeding tube and is barely able to communicate. Haleigh is a prisoner in her own body.

She also has type one diabetes. Kala is a service dog specially trained to check blood sugar levels by smell and alert handlers of spikes - to do what Haleigh cannot do for herself, to speak out when she needs help.

[end]

12US GA: Cannabis Oil Backers Fight Cut In PotencyWed, 15 Feb 2017
Source:Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) Author:Torrres, Kristina Area:Georgia Lines:Excerpt Added:02/15/2017

Jim "J-Bo" Wages and his wife, Lisa, made the decision a few years ago to wean their daughter off of pharmaceutical drugs, becoming one of the first families in 2015 to qualify for Georgia's then-new medical marijuana registry.

Since then, they've seen Sydney blossom. She's eating more, has better awareness of what is going on around her. Last week, they caught her laughing as her older sister tickled her stomach before bedtime - a reaction neither had seen in years.

The 13-year-old, who has autism and suffers from intractable seizures, has benefited from the state's medical marijuana law, her parents said. But they are afraid others won't.

[end]

13US GA: State House Committee Passes Medical Marijuana ExpansionThu, 29 Dec 2016
Source:Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)          Area:Georgia Lines:Excerpt Added:12/29/2016

A key state House committee passed legislation Wednesday that would expand the list of medical conditions that can be treated with cannabis oil.

House Bill 722 would add HIV/AIDS, epidermolysis bullosa, post-traumatic stress disorder, Tourette's syndrome and other disorders and illnesses to the list of qualifying medical conditions for the state's cannabis oil program.

Lawmakers passed legislation last year that legalized cannabis oil for the treatment of eight disorders.

"We're going to improve the lives of a significant amount of Georgians by the passing of this bill," said bill sponsor Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon. "Not as many as I would've liked."

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14US GA: Medical Marijuana Push Criticized By Georgia ProsecutorsThu, 29 Dec 2016
Source:Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)          Area:Georgia Lines:Excerpt Added:12/29/2016

The effort to expand Georgia's medical marijuana law continued Friday to receive pointed criticism, as supporters struggle to gain support from the state's law enforcement community.

Chuck Spahos, executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys' Council of Georgia, testified during a brief hearing before the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee that he believes House Bill 722 would too broad and, in some spots, contradictory toward its goal of allowing Georgia manufacturers to grow and cultivate medical marijuana in-state under strict controls.

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15 US GA: Suspect Killed During Drug RaidTue, 13 Dec 2016
Source:Macon Telegraph (GA) Author:Fabian, Liz Area:Georgia Lines:134 Added:12/15/2016

A Crawford County man was shot and killed Monday after he allegedly fired a shotgun at police officers who were serving a search warrant in a drug case.

About eight officers working with the Peach County Drug Task Force were dressed in protective gear as they went to the home of Rainer Tyler Smith, 31, at 6750 Ga. 42 South shortly after 2 a.m., said J.T. Ricketson, of the GBI.

"No one came to the door, so they made entry, and as soon as they made it inside, one of the occupants started shooting," said Ricketson, special agent in charge of the GBI's Perry office.

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16US GA: Column: The Debate Of Marijuana Use In Georgia ContinuesThu, 01 Dec 2016
Source:Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) Author:Galloway, Jim Area:Georgia Lines:Excerpt Added:12/05/2016

The debate over whether Georgia will become a safer space for marijuana, in medicinal or any other form, is poised to pick up speed next year. But only if the incoming Donald Trump administration doesn't shut it down.

And with the nomination of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama as the nation's next U.S. attorney general, that has become a distinct possibility.

On the same November day that voters handed the New York businessman the keys to the White House, four states - California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada - approved the adult use of marijuana for recreational purposes.

Three more - Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota - passed ballot initiatives that legalized the use of marijuana derivatives for medicinal purposes.

[end]

17US GA: Column: After Cops Killed Widow, What Changed?Thu, 24 Nov 2016
Source:Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) Author:Torpy, Bill Area:Georgia Lines:Excerpt Added:11/29/2016

A decade ago, a little old lady living behind burglar bars in a rough Atlanta neighborhood died in a fusillade of bullets in her own living room. The invaders were cops on an illegal raid searching for drugs that never existed.

A week after the Nov. 21, 2006, killing of 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston, then-Mayor Shirley Franklin faced an angry crowd at Lindsay Street Baptist Church on the near West Side. For four hours, residents harangued officials with stories about cops kicking in doors with unsigned warrants or teens getting slammed to the pavement simply for hanging around.

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18US GA: Players Union Open To Pot StudyTue, 15 Nov 2016
Source:Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) Author:Ledbetter, D. Orlando Area:Georgia Lines:Excerpt Added:11/18/2016

FLOWERY BRANCH - The NFLPA is not leaving any stones unturned when trying to look out for the wellness of its membership, even if the latest stone is currently banned.

The union, which represents the players in the NFL, is actively looking at marijuana as a pain-management tool and plans to form a committee to study the benefits of the drug.

Marijuana is a banned substance under the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement between the union and the NFL. The agreement runs through 2020.

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19US GA: Column: Remembering Kathryn JohnstonSun, 30 Oct 2016
Source:Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) Author:Staples, Gracie Bonds Area:Georgia Lines:Excerpt Added:10/30/2016

I keep trying to imagine how frightened Kathryn Johnston, 92, must have been that night police stormed her Elm Street home. Here's what we know about the last minutes of her life.

Sometime around 7 p.m. on Nov. 21, 2006, three Atlanta police officers, dressed in plainclothes and wearing bulletproof vests, forced Johnston's front door open.

Johnson fired on the officers but missed. They returned 39 shots, hitting her five or six times. Prosecutors would later say that one of them, Officer Jason R. Smith, handcuffed the elderly woman as she was dying.

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20US GA: City Tries Progressive Law On PotSun, 18 Sep 2016
Source:Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) Author:Niesse, Mark Area:Georgia Lines:Excerpt Added:09/22/2016

In the mellow suburban town of Clarkston, where aging hippies mingle easily with refugees, arrests for marijuana violations were never a top priority.

So it wasn't much of a surprise when the city passed Georgia's most relaxed marijuana law, reducing the fine for possession of less than an ounce of the drug to $75.

That was two and a half months ago. In that time, town leaders and residents are proud to say, the law has resulted in absolutely no changes. Clarkston is still Clarkston, not a drug haven.

As more time passes, some say, leaders of other cities might look at the town and see that nothing bad happens when you get rid of $1,000 fines and threats of a criminal record for marijuana consumption.

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