Atlanta City Council has joined the growing number of jurisdictions across the United States, that opt out the war on cannabis and apply a more common sense marijuana policy than the federal government.
Currently, the law punishes cannabis possession in the city of Atlanta with a $1000 fine and up to 6 months imprisonment.
Atlanta City Councillors voted 15 – 0 in favour to pass the ordinance that was originally proposed by mayoral candidate, Kwanza Hall.
The ordinance proposes to reduce the maximum penalty to $75 and no imprisonment for cannabis possession up to an ounce.
“Currently we are seeing families torn apart, we are seeing young people lose their scholarships, we are seeing people become unemployable all because of possession of less than an ounce. And primarily the neighbourhoods, the zip codes, the people, are people of colour, living in parts of our city that have been left behind, that have been neglected. And they have been penalised greater than anyone else. 92% 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…” Kwanza Hall was quoted saying to Maria Boynton at V103.
The new Atlanta bill is fully in line with the Marijuana Justice Act, that was recently introduced by New Jersey Senator, Cory Booker.
Lawmakers are making efforts to minimise the war on drugs’ devastating effects on minority communities. It is outrageous that some states have legal adult use cannabis markets, while other states imprison residents for small possession charges.
Now, it is only up to the Mayor of Atlanta, Kasim Reed to sign the bill so it becomes the new law. That should not be a problem as Mr Reed has expressed support for the bill and tweeted about looking forward to reviewing and sign the bill.
— Kasim Reed (@KasimReed) October 2, 2017
Judges will have the discretion to apply steeper sentences for repeat offenders, however, the new law will surely save many lives from getting off track for a small possession charge.
“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,”
Mr Hall said in a statement after the motion passed.