Atlanta City Council measure to remove jail time for minor marijuana possession awaits Mayor’s signature.
The Atlanta City Council unanimously voted this past week to decriminalize marijuana. The new policy eliminates jail time for individuals caught with less than an ounce of marijuana.
This change couldn’t have happened sooner for residents in Atlanta. Arrests for marijuana possession are on the rise again in the U.S. after a decade of decline, and in Atlanta, like in much of the U.S., minorities are affected the most by America’s punishing drug laws. In 28 states, you can still be sent to jail for basic possession of marijuana.
City Council members voted 15-0 in favor of decriminalizing marijuana Monday. The bill now awaits Mayor Kasim Reed’s signature. Mr. Reed, a Democrat, tweeted Monday evening that he intends to sign the bill into law.
Introduced in March by Councilman Kwanza Hall, the decriminalization bill significantly reduces penalties for individuals caught with under an ounce of marijuana. Individuals caught with up to an ounce of marijuana currently face up to six months behind bars and being fined up to $1,000 under Georgia state law. Atlanta’s decriminalization measure would eliminate the possibility of jail time and reduce any potential fines to a maximum of $75.
Roughly nine out of 10 people arrested and charged with possession in Atlanta between 2014 and 2016 were African-African, according to the Racial Justice Action Center. This is despite the fact that marijuana use is statistically as popular with whites as blacks. Councilman Hall calls Atlanta’s arrest rates
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