With a vote to be held today, Atlanta’s city council could add the Peach State’s biggest city to the ever-growing list of American municipalities where cannabis possession is decriminalized.
According to local CBS News, if council members pass the proposal, repercussions for getting caught with up to one ounce of marijuana would change from the state law’s $1,000 fine and up to 180 days in jail to a city-sanctioned simple citation worth $75 and absolutely zero jail time.
Atlanta would follow the path of neighboring Clarkson, Georgia, where an identical rule-change passed last year, and cities around the country like Houston, Philadelphia, and most recently, Dallas, where similar laws protect cannabis users from ridiculously harsh penalties.
Supporters of the decriminalization proposal say that the current criminalization has unfairly affected people of color, and that taking jail time and criminal records out of the equation would save lives. They’re not wrong, either -- 92% of local possession arrests occurring between 2014-2016 left African-Americans in handcuffs.
But while Atlanta looks to remove the criminality from cannabis, it’s worth remembering that Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam moved last week to overturn similar decriminalization efforts in Memphis and Nashville, proving once again that even victories in the fight for cannabis legalization and normalization are subject to the whims of fickle lawmakers.
Let’s just hope Atlanta’s legislators can look at things logically and realize that the current punishment doesn’t fit the crime.