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1US GA: Reunited Family Heartens Critics Of State's War On PotTue, 03 Jul 2018
Source:Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) Author:Boone, Christian Area:Georgia Lines:Excerpt Added:07/03/2018

JEFFERSONVILLE, GA. - When Georgia authorities found out that smoking marijuana was ridding 15-year-old David Ray of seizures that had plagued him through childhood, the consequences were swift and severe.

His mother and stepfather - Suzeanna and Matthew Brill - were arrested and jailed for six days. David, no longer able to medicate with pot, was hospitalized for a week after suffering what his mother called "the worst seizure of his life." He was then discharged to strangers and sent to a Division of Family and Children Services group home after his parents were stripped of custody - another example of "how the war on drugs breaks up families," said Lauren Deal, Suzeanna Brill's attorney.

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2US GA: Teacher Raquel Spencer Had Heroin In Ga School, Police SayThu, 26 Apr 2018
Source:Fresno Bee, The (CA) Author:Berson, Scott Area:Georgia Lines:Excerpt Added:05/01/2018

Teachers at Northwest High School near Dalton, Ga. first became concerned when their colleague, 28-year-old cheer coach and English teacher Raquel Spencer, seemed to have trouble carrying on a coherent conversation, according to the Times Free Press.

Alarmed by her "unusual behavior," she was escorted to an office and consented to a search of her belongings, Whitfield County Schools spokesperson Eric Beavers told the Dalton Daily-Citizen.

That's when the school resource officer found heroin in her belongings, the paper reported.

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3US GA: Poll Shows Support For Georgia Medical Marijuana DispensariesWed, 17 Jan 2018
Source:Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) Author:Niesse, Mark Area:Georgia Lines:Excerpt Added:01/17/2018

More Georgia voters than ever support changing state law to allow harvesting and distribution of medical marijuana, according to a poll by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Over three-quarters of those surveyed said Georgia's medical marijuana program should be expanded, an increase from previous years. This year's AJC poll showed that 77 percent want greater access to medical marijuana, compared with 71 percent last year and 73 percent in 2016.

Meanwhile, approval of marijuana legalization for recreational use also reached new heights, with 50 percent of respondents backing legalization, compared with 46 percent last year.

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4 US GA: PUB LTE: Pot Legislation A Good First StepWed, 11 Oct 2017
Source:Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) Author:Blackmon, Alexis Area:Georgia Lines:31 Added:10/11/2017

As an African-American woman who has seen the negative ramifications an ounce of marijuana can have on one's life, I found the article "Atlanta Mayor Reed to review, sign changes to city marijuana laws," hopeful.

According to ACLU, African-Americans are more than four times as likely to be arrested as white adults. By reducing the penalty and eliminating jail time, fewer African-Americans will have a criminal record. In Atlanta, African-Americans make up 92 percent of those arrested for marijuana possession. By decriminalizing marijuana and reducing the penalty, the crime rate amongst African-Americans will decrease.

A strict drug penalty is not stopping the usage of marijuana. Why not lessen the offense and put the money into the communities that are disproportionately affected by the incarceration rate?

Alexis Blackmon, Marietta

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5US GA: Georgia Prosecutors Push To Free Imprisoned Low-Level DrugMon, 09 Oct 2017
Source:Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) Author:Cook, Rhonda Area:Georgia Lines:Excerpt Added:10/09/2017

Anthony Gray expected to be an old man when he got out of prison after serving a 30-year sentence for a relatively minor drug offense.

Aron Tuff was certain he would die there, having been sentenced to life without parole after he was convicted in 1995 in Colquitt County for possession of .03 grams of cocaine with intent to distribute.

Both men were sentenced during a time when tough on crime drug laws of the 1980s and '90s left many low-level drug offenders serving long sentences.

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6US 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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7US 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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8US 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.

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9US 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.

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10US 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.

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11US 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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12US 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.

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13US 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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14US 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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15US 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.

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16US 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.

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17US 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.

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