In an attempt to root out some of the social injustices and stop tearing families apart over plants, Atlanta has decided to make a major move in the right direction when it comes to marijuana possession.
A city ordinance that decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana was unanimously passed by the council Monday.
After it passed in the council 15-0, the ordinance, proposed by Councilman and mayoral candidate Kwanza Hall, only needs the signature of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to become law. Reed has 8 days either to sign the legislation or to veto it, reported WXIA-TV.
The ridiculous penalty currently in effect for possession of marijuana in the city is a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 6 months’ imprisonment, but under the new ordinance, possessing under an ounce of the plant would result in no prison time and a maximum fine of $75.
Hall told V-103 anchor Maria Boynton: “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.
“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 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.”
Hall said that possession of less than an ounce would just be a ticket. He said it would not only save families, but also save the city money by not wasting millions of dollars on incarcerating people, taking them through booking and going through court time.
Hall also said that judges will have the discretion to add a steeper sentence for repeat offenders. This of course could lead to similar problems being faced now if police continue to target African Americans.
The council wants people to be informed of the details of the new law, and not misunderstand it.
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.”
(Article By Jeremiah Jones)