In the debate around whether or not to decriminalize marijuana, the city of Atlanta has made it clear where it stands.
In a unanimous decision, the Atlanta City Council voted to sanction possession of small amounts of the herbal drug, allowing those caught in possession of less than an ounce the opportunity to avoid jail time and pay a maximum fine of $75. The current penalty for possession is up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
The next step towards making it a law involves getting the signature of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Kwanza Hall, the councilman who proposed the ordinance, hopes the signature is received for a number of reasons.
In an interview with local CBS affiliate V-103, Hall said elaborated on the devastating effects that keeping the the law as is has had on the community.
“Currently, we are seeing families torn apart," he said. "We’re seeing young people lose their scholarships, we’re seeing people become unemployable, all because of possession of less than an ounce. And primarily the neighborhoods, the zip codes, the people are people of color living in parts of our city that have been left behind, that have been neglected, and they are being penalized greater than anyone else.”
Hall, also a mayoral candidate added that many of the people plagued with records due to small amounts of marijuana possession are African Americans and it is wrong. In the interview prior to the vote, Hall said “We have the power in City Hall to do it right now. We are the governing body as City Council. I’m asking for that vote, and when we take that vote, it’s going to change the city forever.”