Atlanta City Council Unanimously Approves Cannabis Law Reforms

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Atlanta, Georgia’s City Council has unanimously passed legislation which reduces the penalties for possession of 1 ounce of cannabis to $75 and no jail time. Previously, the city municipal code called for penalties of six months in jail and a fine up to $1,000.

The measure, introduced by Councilor Kwanza Hall, was supported by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Dr. George Napper, the city’s first African American police chief. Reed said via Twitter he looked forward to “reviewing and signing” the legislation

In a statement posted to Medium, Napper, who served as police chief from 1978 to 1982 before being promoted to Public Safety Commissioner, said the previous regime “inordinately affected young African American males and exacerbated the attendant community ills associated therewith.”

“I applaud [Hall’s] recent effort in introducing legislation to decriminalize marijuana arrests and convictions,” he stated in the post. “As Chief of Police I saw first-hand the destruction of young people’s futures due to juvenile indiscretions.”

The cannabis law is the latest law enforcement policy reforms headed up by Hall – a potential mayoral candidate – and enacted by the council. In 2015, the Hall-introduced Pre-Arrest Diversion Pilot Program passed the body, and last year a measure was approved aimed to end so-called broken windows policing.

“Today we stand with every parent of Atlanta who is fearful of or has seen their children’s lives destroyed, or careers ruined because of a racist policy that unjustly incarcerated minorities by more than [90] percent,” Hall said in a press release. “Reforming the racist marijuana laws on the book in Atlanta has been just one in a number of reforms that I have fought for.”

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The measure will take effect once signed by Reed.

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