A vote scheduled for Monday to reduce penalties for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana was put on hold. The Atlanta City Council voted 10 – 4 to put the measure back into the Public Safety Committee’s hands for the time being. Part of the reasoning is not having enough time to talk to necessary officials regarding the proposal.
Rather than a maximum of six months in jail and fines up to $1,000, offenders would receive a civil citation instead, according to Atlanta Business Chronicle. If and when the proposal does pass, fines would be reduced to just $75 with no jail time. Those supporting the proposal agree that it would reduce the number of inmates incarcerated for simple marijuana possession.
City Council President Ceasar Mitchell said, in regards to the delay, that, “We went on recess, then a bridge collapsed. We have all these issues that have taken up the administration’s attention.”
Councilman Kwanza Hall said, “We’re not legalizing marijuana. We’re not even decriminalizing it. We’re trying to reclassify it and create a new pathway ….to prevent people from going into the criminal justice system.”
One Councilwoman, Keisha Lance Bottoms doesn’t think that the new ordinance will stop arrests.
She said, “It’s still a crime under state statutes. You can still be stopped and arrested.”
There is still a bit of confusion as to what the ordinance would mean, as a citation is much different than an arrest.
The Public Safety Committee is expected to discuss the proposal soon, perhaps in the next couple of weeks.