Under an Atlanta, Georgia City Council proposal, penalties for possessing 1 ounce of cannabis or less would be reduced to a $75 ticket and no jail time – and the council is just one vote away from passing the measure, WSB-TV reports. Under current law, possessing less than 1 ounce can result in fines up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail if convicted.
The City Council Public Safety Committee moved the measure to the full council on Tuesday after passing it 2-1 with one abstention.
Councilman Kwanza Hall said the current regime disproportionately affects minorities and the city “has to be the leader in the conversation of justice reform.”
“Ninety percent of the people who are in our jails for possession of marijuana are young African-Americans,” Hall said in the report. “People are losing their jobs. People are losing their scholarships. Families are being torn apart for something that we should really be ashamed of.”
His colleague, Councilman Ivory Young, had reservations about the proposal.
“I think there ought to be controls on substances like this,” Young said in the report. “We need to be very careful because as quickly as we provide a license to do certain things it often becomes legal precedent.”
The full council will take up the measure on Monday.