[JURIST] The Atlanta City Council [official site] on Monday unanimously approved [video] an ordinance [text] decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana within the city limits. Following the path of other cities[JURIST report], the council approved, by a 15-0 vote, Ordinance 17-O-1152 to make the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana a non-jailable offense that results in a fine of seventy five dollars without the possibility of incarceration.
The ordinance was spearheaded by Mayoral candidate Kwanza Hall [campaign site] who sponsored the measure due to racial disparities and inequalities [press release] among those imprisoned due to simple possession.
Under the present law, those found guilty of possession would face a fine up to one thousand dollars and a period of up to six months in prison. The new ordinance limits the applicable punishment:
It shall be unlawful for any person to possess one ounce or less of marijuana within the corporate limits of the city. Any person found guilty of violating this section shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $75.00, and shall not be punished by imprisonment for any term.The ordinance will now go to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed [official website] for signature, but will become law due to the unanimous approval. The ordinance only regulates conduct within the city limits and does not preclude simple possession from being used as probable cause for criminal investigation purposes.