Porterdale will soon become the fourth city in the state to become a Drug Free Commercial Zone after the city council passed a Drug Free Commercial Zone ordinance at its Dec. 3 council meeting.
According to the new ordinance, a Drug Free Commercial Zone is a commercial zone or zones within a city or municipality where there has been a high rate of drug crime. Under the ordinance, 98 percent of the city of Porterdale is classified as a Drug Free Commercial Zone.
According to the new ordinance, it will be unlawful for any person to illegally manufacture, distribute, dispense, or possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance or marijuana in, on, or within any real property which has been designated under this code section as a drug-free commercial zone.
If anyone violates or conspires to violate the ordinance, the individual will be found guilty of felon and upon conviction shall receive upon first conviction, imprisonment for not more than 20 years or a fine of not more than $20,000, or both; or upon a second or subsequent conviction, imprisonment for not less than five years, nor more than 40 years or a fine of not more than $40,000, or both; and banishment from the zone for one year as a condition of parole or probation.
It further states that any person who is charged with possession of marijuana, which possession is of one ounce or less, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and punished by imprisonment for a period not to exceed 12 months or a fine not to exceed $1,000, or both, or public works not to exceed 12 months.
Penalties and punishment for the law states anyone in violation will be guilty of a felony and will face double fines and prison time.
Mayor Arline Chapman and city manager Bob Thomson said the ordinance will now have to be introduced to the Georgia General Assembly for the ordinance can become a law. District 113 state Rep. Pam Dickerson will introduce the proposed legislation to the general assembly at the 2013 legislative session.
Porterdale will join the cities of Atlanta, Social Circle and College Park, which have all been designated as Drug Free Commercial Zones. Chapman said she hopes the proposed ordinance would help keep drugs out of the city.
"I think it will hopefully be a deterrent and raise fines that are levied for people who are caught with drugs in the community," Chapman said. "I think it will work for us."