Atlanta City Council lessens pot possession law in 15-0 vote


The Atlanta City Council on Monday unanimously approved legislation that will lower the fine for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, illiciting rousing applause by a packed audience that has been pushing for the vote for months.

City Councilman Kwanza Hall, who also is running to succeed Kasim Reed as Atlanta next mayor, has been trying to lessen penalties around possession of small amounts of marijuana since spring. His legislation is also designed to eliminate jail time for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana.

Hall said the legislation is necessary to address the disparity in incarceration of African Americans for marijuana possession. While white and black Americans use pot at about the same rate, African Americans are arrested and charged in larger percentages. Between 2014 and 2016, 92 percent of those arrested for possession were African American and 85 percent were male, according to the Racial Justice Action Center in East Point.

At a rally held last Friday at the Atlanta Detention Center to support the measure, Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia and daughter of civil rights icon Andrew Young, said passage of the legislation would allow police to focus on other issues.

“We’re spending billions of dollars in racially discriminatory law enforcement,” she said, “(and) taking away law enforcement resources that could actually be spent to keep our communities safe.”

MYAJC.COM: REAL JOURNALISM. REAL LOCAL IMPACT.

The AJC's Leon Stafford keeps you updated on the latest in the Atlanta mayoral race and everything else going on at City Hall. You'll find more on myAJC.com, including these stories:

Never miss a minute of what's happening in Atlanta politics. Subscribe to myAJC.com.

More on this issue:



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

JUST IN: Woman hit trying to cross I-85 in DeKalb 
JUST IN: Woman hit trying to cross I-85 in DeKalb 

A pedestrian was hit early Tuesday on I-85 North in DeKalb County, according to police. “It appears that a woman was struck as she was attempting to cross 85,” DeKalb police spokeswoman Shiera Campbell told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  The woman was taken to a local hospital, but is expected to survive, according to...
Major work begins on one of metro Atlanta’s worst traffic bottlenecks
Major work begins on one of metro Atlanta’s worst traffic bottlenecks

After months of preliminary work, construction has begun in earnest on a fix for one of metro Atlanta’s worst traffic bottlenecks. The new I-285 interchange at Ga. 400 will take almost three more years to complete. When it’s done, state transportation officials say it will make commuting easier for hundreds of thousands of people....
Georgia 2018: Abrams gets backup from progressive powers
Georgia 2018: Abrams gets backup from progressive powers

Democrat Stacey Abrams. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM Democrat Stacey Abrams bid for governor welcomed some reinforcements from her party’s progressive wing. The Working Families Party, a national progressive advocacy group, on Tuesday endorsed her bid for higher office. And MoveOn.Org said a majority of its members – about 83...
Clouds, light rain in the forecast
Clouds, light rain in the forecast

Today: Patchy drizzle. High: 60 Tonight: Mostly cloudy. Low: 47 Tomorrow: Partly cloudy. High: 61 Light rain, cloudy skies and higher temperatures are on tap for metro Atlanta, according to Channel 2 Action News. “There’s just enough moisture that it could produce some patchy, light rain,” Channel 2 meteorologist Karen Minton...
Georgia GOP faces $700K in debt amid tide of legal bills
Georgia GOP faces $700K in debt amid tide of legal bills

Georgia GOP chair John Watson. AJC file The Georgia Republican Party reported it faced about $700,000 in debt, much of it from mounting legal bills linked to a racial discrimination lawsuit that was recently settled after about three years of litigation. The state party’s federal financial disclosure, filed late Monday...
More Stories