By Anthony Martinelli

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has signed ordinance 17-O-1152 into law, which reduces the penalty for possession of one ounce of marijuana or less to a maximum of $75, and instructs the Atlanta Police Department to conduct training on the new penalty provision.

The ordinance, introduced by Councilmember Kwanza Hall, eliminates the possibility of jail time for a conviction of possessing one ounce or less of cannabis under the City Code. The maximum penalty would become a fine of $75. Prior to the new law, possessing an ounce or less of marijuana would result in a fine of up to $1000 and up to six months in jail.

“I am pleased to sign this ordinance, which eliminates jail time as a penalty for a conviction for possession of less than an ounce, into law”,said Mayor Reed in a press release. “I also want to thank Councilmembers Keisha Lance Bottoms and Kwanza Hall for their work not only to pass this ordinance, but also to make sure our officers in the Atlanta Police Department receive the appropriate training. People of color, young and low-income people are disproportionately jailed – with sentences up to six months – for possessing small amounts of marijuana. An average of 1,000 people are arrested each year in Atlanta for possession only. We needed to change that. I believe our public safety resources are better directed to stopping and preventing violent crime.”

The new law was passed unanimously earlier this month.

“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,” said Councilmember Hall following the vote. “Reforming the racist marijuana laws on the book in Atlanta has been just one in a number of reforms that I have fought for.”

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