Atlanta city council sends pot proposal back to committee -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Atlanta city council sends pot proposal back to committee

Source: WGCL Source: WGCL

Atlanta city council members voted Monday to send a proposal on decriminalizing marijuana possession back to a committee.

If approved, anyone caught possessing an ounce or less of marijuana in the city limits would receive a $75 ticket, rather than suffer the current penalty which involves criminal charges and jail time.

The city of Clarkston passed a similar law last year.

Under current state law, possession of marijuana results in a maximum of 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Supporters say the law as it stands disproportionately affects the poor and people of color. Statistics show that black residents make up 76 percent of those incarcerated for marijuana offenses in Georgia. That's compared to 21 percent of white men. Between 2014 and 2016, 92 percent of those arrested for possession in Atlanta were African-American, 85 percent of which were men.

Opponents of the change argue that marijuana can be a gateway to other drugs, and that decriminalizing it could send a signal that it's okay to do drugs in the city of Atlanta.

Nigel O' Rear works downtown. He believes the current punishment for marijuana possession is overkill.

"That really can impact your ability to get hired and ultimately your life, and so yeah, getting rid of that, I think, will prevent a lot of people from getting put into a system that otherwise they would not be going into," says O'Rear. 

Instead of approving the proposal, the city council voted 10-4 to send it back to a committee for more discussion. 

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