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Two big Georgia counties stop prosecuting small marijuana crimes

Drugs have a terrible effect on people's health and happiness if they are illicit or used without medical guidance. Convictions for drug possession can be just as damaging to a person's life and career. Felony convictions are particularly problematic when people need to pass background checks for jobs and civil services.

Some observers claim the effect of marijuana laws has been too harsh on minor offenders who have less or no intent to sell or conceal large amounts of the drug. A nationwide effort to soften the enforcement of these laws or repeal them altogether has reached the Peach State.

Cobb County, home to Marietta and more than 750,000 Georgians, has announced a halt on the prosecution of certain minor crimes related to marijuana use and possession. The jurisdiction closely follows Gwinnett County, home to nearly a million people, in ceasing its prosecution of these crimes instead of a new state law.

The governor in Atlanta signed a law legalizing industrial hemp, which is used for rope and other agricultural products, but police officers are not equipped to tell the difference between hemp and marijuana. As a result, people in possession of less than an ounce of marijuana are not likely to be prosecuted in the counties with the second highest and third highest populations in Georgia.

People accused of drug crimes may also defend themselves in a court of law when prosecutors decide to actively pursue charges. An attorney is often useful in helping prepare a defense, working with prosecutors and representing clients' interests in court proceedings and filings.

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