Digging Deeper: Why Richmond County Solicitor General isn’t taking new marijuana possession cases

Digging Deeper: Richmond County Solicitor General not taking new marijuana possession cases

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - In Richmond County, changes are being made to the consequences for some marijuana possession charges. In addition to the commission voting to amend the city code, the Solicitor General has said she will not be taking any new misdemeanor marijuana cases, and is dismissing current open cases.

This stems from difficulty being able to do her job as a prosecutor. Currently, there is no test that differentiates between hemp and marijuana. Solicitor General Omeeka Loggins explained “If you test hemp and marijuana, both are going to pop positive for the presence of THC." This is because both come from the cannabis plant. The difference being that there are different amounts of THC in each plant. Loggins added, "What we need, is a test that can determine the concentration of THC.”

Currently, there is only a test that detects the presence of the substance. Loggins said, “As a prosecutor, if I don’t have the testing capabilities to differentiate between legal hemp and illegal marijuana, I can’t go forward on the cases.” Currently, she has 42 open possession cases, and 230 cases that have possession charges attached to other crimes. Due to a lack of ability to differentiate between hemp and marijuana, she is dismissing those cases.

It might seem extreme to some that these cases are being dropped, however in some cases is it extremely difficult to tell the difference between marijuana and hemp. For example, the CBD Flower, sold in many stores in the CSRA, looks and smells just like weed. Morgan Dismukes, Store Manager at Your CBD Store, explains, “It’s coming straight from the hemp, and it looks exactly like marijuana. It just doesn’t get you high.” (Your CBD Store does not sell CBD Flowers.)

The CBD Flower does have THC, but under the .03% legal limit. While there is already a test for liquid substances, such as the CBD Oil, there are none that measure leafy substances such as the flower. The GBI told FOX 54 they have been working to develop a test that will measure THC concentration, but they are only planning to use that on felony or trafficking cases. That test is coming out on September 3, 2019. GBI Spokesperson said the test needs to be done in a crime lab, with specific tools and trained chemists. They do not know when a smaller, field test will be available for local law enforcement agencies.

In the meantime, that leaves some prosecutors feeling like their hands are tied. Loggins said, “I’m not able to prove that particular part of the law right now.” But, she says this does not mean she is giving people a free pass. “Just because at this time, legally, I’m not able to go forth, there are other consequences that can come from using marijuana. I don’t want people to take this as a stance that I’m condoning use,” she said. Remember that possession charges should not be your only concern. Many jobs drug test, some housing developments drug test, and you can still be prosecuted for DUI if you drive while high.

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