In about a week or so, marijuana could be decriminalized in Atlanta. The Atlanta City Council unanimously passed an ordinance that decriminalized an ounce or less of marijuana, making it a ticketable offense.
The ordinance which was proposed by councilman and mayoral candidate Kwanza Hall was passed 15 – 0 by the council.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed now has 8 days to either sign or veto the legislation.
The current penalty for possession of marijuana in the city is a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months imprisonment, but under the new ordinance, possessing less than an ounce of the drug would result in no prison time and a maximum fine of $75.
“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,” Hall said to 24 Karat Reggae.
“92 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 continued. “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.”
Councilwoman Keisha Lance-Bottoms said, “In fact, what I’ve said is I don’t want blood on my hands. I don’t want some college kid to think they are within their rights to possess marijuana in Atlanta, get arrested, resist arrest and, God forbid, the worst happens.”
Way to go Atlanta. Hopefully all major cities across the United States will follow in your footstep.