Marijuana semantics ; Gadfly files suit over language in Senoia ordinance

Senoia resident Don Rehman has filed suit against the mayor and city council over a city ordinance dealing with the misdemeanor offense of possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. Rehman’s March 15 filing in Coweta County Superior Court contends that the Senoia city ordinance essentially mandates that males are required to be in possession of more than an ounce of marijuana to be considered law abiding citizens. City attorney Drew Whalen in response to the filing said he did not understand Rehman’s twisted logic.

At issue in the suit is city ordinance Section 46-7 that pertains to possession of less than one ounce of marijuana. The code section reads, “It shall be unlawful for any person to have in his possession less than an ounce of marijuana.” Rehman is asking the court require that the city revoke the ordinance or declare it unconstitutionally or legally defective or void.

Possession of less than one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor violation under state law, Whalen said Georgia law allows certain misdemeanors, such as possessing less than an ounce of marijuana, to be tried in city court. Possession of more than an ounce of marijuana is a felony in Georgia and is not tried in city courts.

Rehman contends that the wording of the ordinance essentially mandates that all males within the city limits must have in their possession one ounce or more of marijuana. Obeying the ordinance as written would make criminals out of law abiding citizens, the suit said.

The suit includes a copy of an email sent by Rehman to the Senoia City Council. That email includes what Rehman called a hypothetical warning by the council that he said demonstrates the error in the current ordinance and what it could be interpreted to mandate. The ordinance as written, Rehman maintains, makes criminals out of law-abiding citizens.

The hypothetical warning that he claims could be issued by the council reads: “All males within the city limits of Senoia (irrespective of age – babies through elderly) are required by Senoia law to have in their possession one ounce or more of marijuana. Females (irrespective of age – babies through elderly) are exempt under the law.”

Rehman in the suit maintains that, “Any law or ordinance which states ‘It shall be unlawful to any person to have in his possession less than one ounce of marijuana’ is mandating that a person must be in possession of one ounce or more of marijuana otherwise to have less than one ounce is supposedly unlawful.

Commenting Wednesday on the suit and its contention, Whalen said,” I do not understand that twisted logic. It’s a free country and (Rehman) can believe anything he wants to.”

Rehman in the filing said he had attempted to have the Senoia City Council address the alleged discrepancy but had been unsuccessful.

Though he will represent himself, Rehman in the filing also asked that the mayor and council pay his court costs and legal expenses, reimburse the city for its legal costs and publicly apologize to the citizens.