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

Police: Road rage escalates to gunfire, kills 1 teen, injures another in Decatur
Police: Road rage escalates to gunfire, kills 1 teen, injures another in Decatur

A teen was shot and killed during a road rage incident in Decatur Wednesday afternoon, Channel 2 Action News reported. Police arrived at the intersection of South Candler Street and Midway Road around 5:45 p.m. to find two people shot inside a car, Decatur Police said in a Facebook post. Both were transported to a hospital, where one of the two died...
Cops: Woman stole roommate’s jewelry worth $4,500, sold it for $200
Cops: Woman stole roommate’s jewelry worth $4,500, sold it for $200

A Hall County woman told authorities some of her and her roommate’s jewelry was stolen. But deputies said she lied, stole her roommate’s jewelry and sold it for a fraction of what it was worth. Cynthia Leigh Fuller, 58, of Gainesville, allegedly stole jewelry valued at more than $4,500 and unlawfully sold it to another person for $200,...
THURSDAY’S WEATHER-TRAFFIC: Summer arrives with more heat, scattered afternoon storms
THURSDAY’S WEATHER-TRAFFIC: Summer arrives with more heat, scattered afternoon storms

Thursday: High: 90 Thursday night: Low: 72 Friday: High: 88 Atlanta will welcome summer Thursday morning. And it’ll still be hot. Very hot. An area of high pressure over the Southeast has been keeping the rain at bay, meaning there’s been few clouds to stop the sun from beaming down across the state, Channel 2 Action News...
Race takes center stage on Day One of Spalding cold case murder trial
Race takes center stage on Day One of Spalding cold case murder trial

Racial animus led Franklin Gebhardt to murder Timothy Coggins in 1983, prosecutors said Wednesday. Indifference over a black man’s death left the Spalding County case unsolved for 34 years, Griffin Judicial Circuit Chief Assistant District Attorney Marie Broder said in her opening statement. It was an admission seized upon by Gebhardt’s...
Teen killed in crash days before starting college
Teen killed in crash days before starting college

An 18-year-old who was about to start college was killed in Coweta County when her car flipped at least seven times before landing in a church driveway, Channel 2 Action News reported.  About 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jasmine Williams’ car went off the road on Ga. 34, according to the news station. Investigators believe it went airborne before hitting...
More Stories