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Report says charges for marijuana possession are on the rise

Although marijuana is not legal in Georgia, it has been legalized in a number of other states. Despite this, an FBI report released on Sept. 24 indicates that a growing number of people are being taken into custody on marijuana charges.

These detentions for marijuana-related offenses are on the increase even though there has been a drop in cases dealing with manufacturing and sales. In 2017, the number of instances people were taken into custody for marijuana possession rose to 599,282 from 587,516 in the previous year. At the same time, detentions for manufacturing and sales dropped from to 60,418 compared to 65,734 the year before.

Massachusetts, Maine, California and Nevada are among the states where marijuana is legal. Advocates of legalization criticized law enforcement on the release of the report for the focus on marijuana arrests given the growing number of places where it is legal and the scope of the opioid epidemic. In all, incidents in which people were taken into custody on drug charges rose from more than 1.5 million in 2016 to over 1.6 million in 2017. Over 40 percent of those were for marijuana in 2017. On average, someone is taken into custody on drug charges somewhere in the country every 19 seconds.

A marijuana-related conviction can have serious consequences even if the charge is for possession rather than sales and distribution. In addition to the legal ramifications, charges for drug crimes can block a person's access to some forms of financial aid for education as well as housing. Therefore, people facing a first-time offense might wonder if they can get the charges reduced or dropped. An attorney may be helpful in explaining what options are available based on the specific circumstances of the case. These could include a plea bargain or going to court with a not guilty plea.

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