atlanta decriminalizes marijuana possession – most people in jail for possession are young african americans

October 11, 2017
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Late yesterday, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed signed legislation decriminalizing marijuana in the city, following similar efforts by major cities like New York. Under the new law, possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana is punishable by a $75 fine and no jail time, rather than the previous law stating that even a tiny amount could lead to a fine of up to $1K and six months in jail.

Like elsewhere around the country, marijuana criminalization in Atlanta disproportionately affects Black offenders. Even though Black people use drugs at similar or even lesser rates than their white counterparts, they are arrested far more often and face harsher sentences.

Atlanta City Council member Kwanza Hall who pushed for the new law told RollingOut, “Ninety percent of the people who are in our jails for possession of marijuana are young African Americans. People are losing their jobs. People are losing their scholarships. Families are being torn apart for something that we should really be ashamed of. … Half of the country has awoken to this. It’s time for Atlanta to be awake as well. Atlanta has to be the leader in this conversation of justice reform. This is a fact. We’re not making up the numbers. You go over to the jail, what do you see?”

Right in time for AFROPUNK Atlanta! (Just kidding. It’s still unclear when the provisions will go into effect.)



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