A proposed Atlanta ordinance that would remove jail time as punishment for marijuana possession passed the first round of voting Tuesday afternoon.
WSB-TV reports the Public Safety Committee voted to pass along the legislation to full council. Three committee members voted for the resolution, one voted against it and one declared no vote on it.
If City Council votes to pass the ordinance, the meaure will be passed along to Mayor Kasim Reed. He’ll have eight days to either veto the measure or sign it into law, CBS 46 reports.
The measure would reduce the penalty for possession of less than 1 oz. of marijuana to a $75 fine and no jail time. The current penalty for possession calls for up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, CBS 46 reports.
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"In Atlanta and in Fulton County, 93 percent of the arrests for small amounts of marijuana are the arrests of African-Americans, that is the most biased rate of arrests in the country," city councilman Kwanza Hall told CBS46 News. "It's not easy to convince a majority of 8 to 10 people and ideally a majority to agree to do something."
The Public Safety Committee voted the proposal down 10-4 in April. Members said at the time they hadn’t had enough opportunity to discuss it with Mayor Kasim Reed’s administrative team, the Atlanta Business Journal reported.
"We went on recess, then a bridge collapsed," council President Ceasar Mitchell told the Atlanta Business Journal. "We have all these issues that have taken up the administration's attention."
Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms said the ordinance could still be confusing for other state officers, like the Georgia State Patrol and police departments from Atlanta’s colleges and universities, according to the Atlanta Business Journal.
"It's still a crime under state statutes," Bottoms said. "You can still be stopped and arrested."