Atlanta Just Decriminalized Marijuana with Unanimous Vote

Raul Arboleda  AFP  Getty Images

On Monday, the Atlanta City Council unanimously approved a bill created to decriminalize the possession up to an ounce of marijuana. State police, and even the local sheriff's office would still be allowed to make cannabis possession arrest based on the state's marijuana laws. It also won't override the fact that outside Atlanta city limits, Georgia penalties for possession of marijuana include a 6-month jail term and fine of up to $1,000. The new measure would lower the penalty to include a $75 fine and no incarceration. It tears apart families, causes students to lose scholarships, and renders a generation of young people unable to get a job.

City Councilmember Kwanza Hall sponsored the legislation and has been urging passage since early this year.

Hall introduced the ordinance to the council last spring.

"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 continued.

"We deal with a lot of marijuana cases and we try to run them through the city, which gives us an additional way to dispose of these cases, where they [students] can go through a pre-trial intervention and have it dropped from their record and we can send it through the student code of conduct, which is a preference of mine". Killer Mike posted an Instagram video, stating, "Bravo, Atlanta City Council". "I'm asking for that vote, and when we take that vote, it's going to change the city forever".

Now that the full Council has approved the measure, it is up to Mayor Kasim Reed to decide whether the proposed ordinance becomes law. In Tennessee, Nashville and Memphis voted to decriminalize marijuana in September 2016, but Governor Bill Haslam signed a bill into law in April that repealed those policies.

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