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Atlanta Committee Voting on Reducing Marijuana Possession Penalties Today

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On September 26, the Atlanta committee will vote on a measure to reduce penalties for possession of marijuana. The measure was initially introduced in March. The Public Safety Committee must pass the measure first, then it can move onto a full city council vote.

If the measure passes, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana would be reduced to just a $75 fine, according to Ledger-Enquirer. No jail time would be issued for simple marijuana possession. Right now, those caught with marijuana face up to 6-months in jail and fines up to $1,000.

Councilman Kwanza Hall said, “In Atlanta and in Fulton County, 93-percent of the arrests for small amounts of marijuana are the arrests of African-Americans, that is the most biased rate of arrests in the country. It’s not easy to convince a majority of the 8 to 10 people and ideally a majority to agree to do something.”

The proposal was voted down in April (10 – 4) by the Public Safety Committee. Some said there wasn’t enough time to discuss the matter with Mayor Kasim Reed’s team before the first vote took place.

Council President Ceasar Mitchell said, “We went on recess, then a bridge collapsed. We have all these issues that have taken up the administration’s attention.”

Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms says the ordinance may still cause confusion for state police officers as well as college/university law enforcement.

Bottoms said, “It’s still a crime under state statutes. You can still be stopped and arrested.”

The vote takes place at 3p.m. on September 26.