Atlanta Passes Marijuana Decriminalization Ordinance

marijuana_gavelToday, Atlanta City Council voted to pass Ordinance 17-O-1152, decriminalizing marijuana possession offenses. This measure amends the local law so that the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is punishable by a $75 fine — no arrest, jail time, or criminal arrest record.

Annually, over 30,000 Georgians — many of whom reside in Atlanta — are arrested and charged with violating marijuana possession laws. Those arrested and convicted face up to one-year in prison, a $1,000 fine under state law, or up to six months in jail under local statutes. National statistics indicate that African Americans are an estimated four times as likely as whites to be arrested for violating marijuana possession laws, despite using marijuana at rates similar to Caucasians.

“Court costs, the jail time, ruining young people’s lives, they lose their scholarships, it breaks up families, and it wastes our tax dollars. That’s the reason for doing this,” said Kwanza Hall, a city Councilman and candidate for Mayor.

With the passage of this measure, citizens of Atlanta no longer have to fear unnecessary jail time for possessing a drug that should not be illegal in the first place. However, because the law only applies to Atlanta city limits, it conflicts with the state law that calls for jail time and gives police leeway in deciding which law (state or city) should be enforced.

However, Atlanta has now joined the growing list of cities around the country that have adopted a more pragmatic approach for dealing with marijuana-related offenses on the local level. This new ordinance may not be perfect, but it is a victory nonetheless.

“Atlanta is celebrating a big win for their community, for their future. Citizens should be aware of the actual law not just assume they can use Cannabis unfettered across the city. There will be a learning curve and we at Peachtree NORML will do everything we can to make sure the citizens are educated as we continue our work at the State level. For now, 800 arrests will not occur next year if this ordinance stays true to what the essence was meant to accomplish,” said Sharon Ravert, founder of Peachtree NORML.


Follow Peachtree NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and visit their website.

0 thoughts

  1. Congratulations to Peachtree NORML , Georgia CARE Project and #One Plant for the awesome work put into this campaign . Truly an awesome day for ALL of Georgia ! And Special Thanks to our states leading Lobbyist and spokesperson Sharon Ravert !!!

  2. Very critical to manage expectations around the passage of this CoA ordinance modification. Even within CoA limits, state laws preempt CoA ordinances; this is why the City cannot enact meaningful and reasonable gun control ordinances.

    It actually makes the situation worse for those found in possession. Officers will be more inclined to charge possessors against the state law causing the arrest to be part of the offenders official criminal record whereas with local ordinances, they are not reported similarly. Instead of having the case adjudicated in CoA Municipal Court, it will go to State Court.

    People need to be very much aware of this.

    1. State law actually allows municipalities to enact local laws controlling cases for possession of marijuana less than an ounce. As for which law is used, it’ll probably depend on what department the arresting officer works for.

    2. Misdemeanor MJ charges not dealt with by the City of Atlanta go to Fulton County State Court. The Solicitor and his staff are following this closely. I’ve discussed it with a top assistant there. They don’t want the added burden on their Courts if the APD starts using the State Law to circumvent the ordinance. My impression was that they might stop prosecuting them. Remains to be seen.

      Whatever happens, this is a good step on the path toward NORMLizing marijuana laws in Georgia.

  3. We understand that very well . This is a very good start. With a new Mayors race in November and new support in the Legislature our battle will be much easier . The police force will respect the Chiefs orders and the Chief reports to the Mayor. Please research the mayors race candidates carefully . While Cannabis law reform is important in the upcoming election we must realize it is jst one small piece of the puzzle managing the city of Atlanta.Mayor candidate Peter Aman supports the new ordiance and will work to insure his police chief honors the ordinances original intent . Plus he will make an awesome mayor for many other reasons , Please check his campaign out .

  4. Legalizing marijuana fights racism, because marijuana legalization removes a cudgel, a favored weapon, from the hands of the white supremacist power base.

    Marijuana legalization is not about marijuana; the real issue is prohibition, and the harm it generates.

    Legalize it! Defeat prohibition. And fuck the racist, white supremacist, violence-promoting drug warriors like Trump and Sessions. Fuck their idiot, racist, Republican supporters.

    Legalization belongs to The Resistance!

  5. There is a blogger on DailyKos named ShowerCap, who wrote about the NRA, and the right-wing propagandists, and about how we must reject their bullshit framing of our social narratives regarding gun violence.

    The point applies to the War On Drugs as well. The following is an excerpt from ShowerCap’s blog, speaking in reply to the right-wing nutjobs:

    (From DailyKos:)
    If you don’t give a fuck about all this senseless loss of life, I guess I can’t make you. You’re broken. That’s your fault, and your problem.

    If you don’t understand why we should work to prevent tens of thousands of completely avoidable deaths, it’s because, frankly, you’re a shit person. You fail at humanity. Cool. I have exactly zero time for you.

    I’m done listening to these lunatics. And I’m done engaging with the rage monsters trying to waste my time. I’m going over, around, and through these dipshits from now on. And you should, too.

    So when the ranting maniac pops up in the comment thread to slobber about Antifa, or George Soros, or “you can’t regulate evil,” don’t give him what he wants. Don’t give him your time.

    ESPECIALLY since we now know beyond the shadow of a doubt that there are better ways to spend that time. Call your Congressman. Call your Senator, your Governor. See, THAT works. Arguing with the dumbass trolls on Facebook didn’t sink the GOP health care bill, targeted, sustained activism did.

    Bills don’t pass on Twitter, folks.

    So, do more of that thing that works, is what I’m saying. We’re only just beginning to understand how powerful we are. Don’t despair, don’t waste time…get to work.

  6. The state already has reasonable gun laws but they can get better. I guess Fulton County can get faster at processing CCW permit applications. The state, however can get much better with cannabis laws, more state lawmakers need to grow a pair and let the state vote on a real medical law and recreation.

  7. So hopefully this fucked up system wipes my record and reputation. Alcohol the number one killer involving accidents as well as contributing to abusive relationships. Don’t forget the most destructive drug on the human body, as well as benzodiazepines. Only 2 drugs that destroy your gamma receptors and reward system and can cause death during it’s detox stage. But hey it brings in so much money for the police through dui, basically supporting their precincts and destroying the public who pay for the let word cops to puppeteer these power moves on your some. But hey I think we can make more money through taxes on weed then the war on drugs pos, finally decriminalize. Strengthening that capitalist approach. So many things need updated. Non violent offenders need rehabilitation, not gladiator school to feed the privately owned trillion dollar penitentiary scandal. Again capitalist at it’s finest. Like crack it has way harsher punishment the powdered cocaine and the only difference is B12 and baking soda. If you clowns could get away with it, baking soda and b12 would carry a minimum of 1to5 years or you can just pay a 1000$ fine huh. Been seeing ya, fucking animals!$$$$ War on drugs=conspiracy to better a capitalist approach=$over human life

    1. You got two choices;
      Either move to Maryland in May where SB949 will expunge state records (except that we cant expunge Google or Facebook; only boycott Facebook and add substantive materials about our professional careers to crowd out our criminal records on Google)…

      …Or you keep fighting where you are by joining campaigns that support our values to treat drug and arms possession as a health issue and not a criminal justice concern.

      I’m supporting Beto O’rourke’s campaign for Senate in Texas.
      In states without voter initiatives and massive voter caging getting involved at the state level and vetting campaigns that claim to support our cause is our only hope to reform marijuana law and put Justice back into our state Attorney Generals’ offices the Federal “Justice” Department.

  8. With so much bleak, depressing and disheartening news of late, this is definitely a morale booster. It’s only a start, but it’s a very good start. Cheers Atlanta!

  9. This new CoA is in place for when cannabis comes off the list as I see it more places are in preparation for when it comes of the list and already having a system in place and not having to deal with it at the last moment ..

  10. Colorado was too cold for me so I moved back home to Atlanta, so happy to hear I don’t have to move to Florida. 🙂

  11. Congratulations Atlanta! Now for the rest of the cities and states out there, let’s stop wasting our money hassling and incarcerating good people!

  12. Peachtree NORML:

    Any chance you can still join this class action lawsuit?:

    A local Georgia Sheriff groped 900 high school stidents looking for “drugs” without evidence or a warrant. 9 students filed suit alledging sexual contact with their genitals.

  13. How does the passage of this new law, impact previous charges that were minimal in nature, less than an ounce?

  14. what if your currently on probabtion for marijuana less than a ounce? the current date is 10.14.2017 and ive been on probabtion since 4/14/2017.

  15. Why do people want to make this moment in history about racism, political views or gun laws? Or anything else… When the fact is that it’s starting people… Soon prohibition will end everywhere! People are finally coming to their senses. Congrats Atlanta! This is just the beginning…

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