Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has signed an ordinance that eliminates jail time as a penalty for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. The maximum penalty would be $75 under the city’s new code.
City officials said the ordinance does not legalize or decriminalize possession of marijuana. Rather, it addresses the disparity in the punishment for possession.
“I am pleased to sign this ordinance, which eliminates jail time as a penalty for a conviction for possession of less than an ounce, into law,” said Mayor Reed. “People of color, young and low-income people are disproportionately jailed – with sentences up to six months – for possessing small amounts of marijuana. An average of 1,000 people are arrested each year in Atlanta for possession only. We needed to change that. I believe our public safety resources are better directed to stopping and preventing violent crime.”
Atlanta joins the city of Clarkston, which passed a no arrest ordinance to make possession of one ounce or less of marijuana a $75 fine.
Under state law, however, possession of any amount of marijuana is still illegal and penalties can include jail time.