Atlanta ponders marijuana decriminalization; Victory for Georgia brewers as SB 85 passes House

  As the state legislature fights its own battles over the use of medical marijuana by Georgians, the Atlanta City Council is preparing for its own vote on decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana within city limits. City Councilwoman Kwanza Hall on Tuesday proposed an ordinance that would drastically reduce the penalty for individuals caught with under an ounce of marijuana.  Currently that crime is a misdemeanor carrying up to a $1000 fine and 6 month confinement.  Under Hall’s proposal, being caught with under an ounce would be a mere $75 fine, no jail time, and no criminal record. Possessing any amount of marijuana would remain illegal under state as well as federal law. Earlier this year Democrat state Senator Harold Jones introduced SB 105 which would have similarly reduced punishments for possessing small amounts of marijuana.  That bill failed to make it out of the Senate Rules Committee. The City Council will vote on the proposal at their meeting next week. See the full text of the proposal HERE. Big win for Georgia brewers The craft beer industry rejoiced Wednesday as the Georgia state Senate voted 52-1 in favor of SB 85, a bill which allows among other things direct sale of alcohol to consumers by breweries.  The bill now heads to the desk of Governor Nathan Deal, who is expected to sign it into law. SB 85 has been a multi-year process as Georgia breweries sought to ‘level the playing field’ with surrounding states, most of which already allow direct sales and food service on site.  Alcohol distributors, a major lobbying force under the Gold Dome, had to be...

Georgia rises on health scorecard, but still lags

The Commonwealth Fund’s 2017 health scorecard had some good news and some bad news for Georgia, which moved up 5 spots in the rankings from the 2016 version.  Unfortunately it was moving up from 46, so a 5 spot jump only puts it at 41st in the nation.  The scorecard ranks states based on health care access, quality, avoidable hospital use and costs, health outcomes, and health care equity.  A small jump is good, but being 41st out of 50 has Georgia’s health ship...

Tuesday’s election winners

It may not have been high profile, but there were a handful of election results Tuesday across Georgia.  Jason Lary will be the first mayor of the new city of Stonecrest, while in the also-new city of South Fulton Bill Edwards and Benny Crane will race in the runoff.  Cobb County passed an education SPLOST, and Fayette County passed their first SPLOST in a decade.  For all the winners of this low-key election day the ship is...

Watch Sunday’s Georgia Gang on Youtube!

  Be prepared for a raucous left-right debate on the March 19th edition of The Georgia Gang as the panel gets testy over the final days of the 2017 legislative session. Also on the docket – Underground Atlanta finally gets sold, pay raises in DeKalb County, and upstart Democratic candidate in the 6th Congressional District Jon Ossoff comes under attack....

Clayton Sheriff loses certification

Beleaguered Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill has had his law enforcement suspended by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council.  The organization voted to suspend Hill’s certification for two years following an incident two years ago where he accidentally shot a female co-worker in a model home.  While he will remain sheriff, he will have to retake certain courses, notably ones involving ethics.  More trouble looming for the embattled Hill has his ship...

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