Atlanta decriminalizes marijuana possession
Last update: October 12, 2017
On October 11, Atlanta City Mayor Kasim Reed signed a measure — unanimously supported by the city council — ending the possibility of jail time and lowering fines for those caught with an ounce or less of marijuana to just $75. While the change applies only to Atlanta’s own ordinances and not state law, which could still apply even in the city, it sends a powerful message to state lawmakers and might help bring justice to African Americans in Atlanta who have paid a very high price under marijuana prohibition laws.
Earlier this year, the state’s medical marijuana program took a major step in the right direction. SB 16, which passed in 2017 and has now been signed into law, expands the list of qualifying medical conditions, which now includes cancer, ALS, multiple sclerosis, seizure disorders, Crohn’s disease, sickle cell anemia, autism (in the case of minors), Tourette’s syndrome, a skin condition called epidermolysis bullosa, Alzheimer’s, AIDS, and peripheral neuropathy. While the law does not address sources and supply of medical cannabis products for patients, SB 16 represented a big improvement.
Voters strongly support these changes to the state medical marijuana law and support the larger goal of making the program fully functional. The latest in a long line of polls shows continued support for expanding the program to include access for patients. If you would like to receive alerts related to policy changes in Georgia, please sign up here.
ACLU study shows Georgia’s harsh marijuana laws result in racially disproportionate arrest rates
Georgia has some of the most punitive marijuana laws in the country, with possession of a mere two ounces being punishable by up to 10 years in prison. It’s clear these laws have not been successful, and new evidence shows that Georgia’s laws are not being evenly enforced.
A 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that although blacks and whites use marijuana at nearly identical rates, blacks in Georgia are 3.7 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.
To receive news about Georgia marijuana policy reform as it happens, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s free legislative alert service, if you haven’t done so already. If you have any questions concerning the status of marijuana reform in Georgia, you can contact MPP at [email protected].