Fayetteville ends jail time for marijuana possession

Marijuana users in Fayetteville will face fines and treatment programs rather than jail for minor possession. AJC file photo
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Marijuana users in Fayetteville will face fines and treatment programs rather than jail for minor possession. AJC file photo

Following a second reading at its Nov. 5 meeting, the Fayetteville City Council voted 5-0 to enact an ordinance to eliminate jail time for anyone possessing an ounce or less of marijuana. Those under age 18 will be fined $125 for a first offense and must appear in court with a parent or guardian, and also complete a substance abuse prevention course. Second and third offenses within a year of the first will incur fines of $250 and $500, respectively, which would be reduced upon completion of a drug program.

Adults 18-20 would receive the same fines, court appearance and substance abuse class, plus an assessment for cannabis use disorder and a voluntary referral to a treatment program. Anyone over 21 would not be required to appear in court but would be subject to the same fines, assessment and treatment referral.

City officials said the ordinance is intended to reduce the amount of time and money spent on arresting and detaining minor drug offenders, and to identify people who might need treatment and prevent them from “entering the criminal justice system and avoiding the enduring stigma associated therewith.”