After months of local and committee debate, Atlanta marijuana decriminalization is now a reality in Georgia’s capital. The Atlanta City Council approved the decriminalization ordinance on Oct. 2, 2017, reducing the penalty of simple marijuana possession from a $1,000 fine and up to six months in prison to a $75 fine and no imprisonment.
With African-Americans making up 92% of the city’s arrests for simple marijuana possession, the council wanted to pass Atlanta marijuana decriminalization as a means of cracking down on racial disparities in possession arrests.
“Today we stand with every parent of Atlanta who is fearful of or has seen their children’s lives destroyed, or careers ruined because of a racist policy that unjustly incarcerated minorities by more than ninety percent,” councilman Kwanza Hall said in a press release. “Reforming the racist marijuana laws on the book in Atlanta has been just one in a number of reforms that I have fought for.”
Following the vote of 15-0 to pass the ordinance, the crowd erupted into prolonged cheers. Before moving on to the next council agenda item, councilmember Keisha Lance Bottoms reminded the overjoyed audience that the ordinance changes the city’s law, not the state’s law, so advocacy efforts would need to continue.
“This same passion and desire to have meaningful change needs to be taken to the state legislature in January,” Bottoms said.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mayor Kasim Reed has indicated that he will sign the ordinance into law.
“Thank you to @KwanzaHall & @KeishaBottoms for your leadership on marijuana reform. I look forward to reviewing & signing this legislation,” Reed said via Twitter.