Last week the Atlanta Public Safety Panel recommended that the city decriminalize marijuana possession. The recommendation followed several months of efforts by the city to get the ball rolling on decriminalization. Well, on Monday the city council finally voted on the measure and it passed with flying colors.
The Atlanta City Council approved of marijuana decriminalization in an unanimous 15-0 vote. According to the new law, anyone caught with under an ounce of marijuana would no longer be punished by jail sentence but rather by a $75 fine. The current punishment is a $1,000 fine with a possible six month jail sentence.
The bill will now go in front of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who can either sign or veto the bill. After the vote on Monday, Reed tweeted his support and said he looks forward to signing it.
Ironically, earlier this year Reed referred to marijuana as a "gateway drug."
Councilman Kwanza Hall spearheaded the effort to pass marijuana decriminalization. He cited the large discrepancy between arrests of black and white citizens in the city (92 percent of marijuana arrests are made on African-Americans) and argued this bill would help fix racial inequality.
Marijuana is still illegal in the state of Georgia and state law enforcement will still be able to arrest people for possession.
The Atlanta City Council Twitter account celebrated the vote with a lame pun:
We're still on a high from yesterday's vote to reduce penalty for possessing less than 1 ounce marijuana. The Mayor says he will sign off🙌
We're still on a high from yesterday's vote to reduce penalty for possessing less than 1 ounce marijuana. The Mayor says he will sign off🙌— Atlanta City Council (@ATLCouncil) October 3, 2017