The Atlanta City Council just made a clear statement on marijuana reform. The council voted 15-0 to approve a measure to decriminalize less than one ounce of marijuana.
Possession of less than one ounce of marijuana currently carries a $1,000 fine and a maximum six-month prison sentence. The new measure would lower the penalty to include a $75 fine and no incarceration.
“Currently, we are seeing families torn apart. We’re seeing young people lose their scholarships, we’re seeing people become unemployable, all because of possession of less than an ounce. And primarily the neighborhoods, the zip codes, the people are people of color living in parts of our city that have been left behind, that have been neglected, and they are being penalized greater than anyone else,” Councilmember Kwanza Hall said according to CBS affiliate V-103.
Hall introduced the ordinance to the council last spring. The council voted 10-4 to send the bill back to the council’s Public Safety Committee after members felt there was not sufficient time to discuss it with the mayor, police, and administrative officials.
“Ninety-two percent of the people arrested for marijuana possession of less than an ounce and who are in our jail are African American, and that is wrong. We should be ashamed of ourselves, and we have to change this law immediately,” Hall added. “We have the power in City Hall to do it right now. We are the governing body as City Council. I’m asking for that vote, and when we take that vote, it’s going to change the city forever.”
The bill now awaits Mayor Kaim Reed’s signature before it can become law. Reed confirmed through a tweet he intends to sign the bill.
— Kasim Reed (@KasimReed) October 2, 2017