Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed took to the radio Thursday morning to clarify tweets from City Council saying he had vetoed new marijuana legislation.
Reed announced on V-103 he had signed the legislation into law Tuesday evening, and had not in fact vetoed it.
Communications Director for City Council Dexter Chambers explained over the phone on V-103 a new hire had sent a tweet out Wednesday morning stating Reed had vetoed the legislation. The tweet should have been run by Chambers first, but that was not done.
The tweet was based off of an email received by City Council about the vetoing of a separate piece of legislation, Chambers said. The attachment was not opened by the new hire and they assumed it was regarding the marijuana bill. It was not intended as a political move, Chambers said.
Reed responded just before 7 a.m. on Twitter saying “Do you all actually believe this?” in response to news reports of the veto and called the City Council tweet a political stunt.
As Chambers finished explaining the internal error Reed asked the V-103 hosts, “Y’all don’t believe that do you?”
Reed stated he found the explanation to be “complete nonsense” and a “political stunt” orchestrated by City Council President Ceaser Mitchell.
“You had people in the City of Atlanta up this morning, you had every major news outlet in the City of Atlanta reporting something that was completely false because you didn’t do your work,” Reed said to Chambers.
The marijuana legislation was in fact signed by the mayor Wednesday night just before 6:30 p.m., Reed said.
The new law will reduce the financial penalty for possession of one ounce or less from up to $1,000 to a maximum of $75. Jail time, currently six months for possession, would be eliminated for an ounce or less.
“I just think this is intentional,” Reed said. “WSB didn’t check, the AJC didn’t check, Fox didn’t check, Channel 11, they didn’t do any of the things I’ve seen 12th grade reporters do at Grady High School. They could’ve sent a text or a tweet and not rely on a tweet from a council account in a competitive mayoral environment.”
Nine candidates have announced their campaigns for mayor of Atlanta, including Mitchell and council members Keisha Lance Bottoms and Kwanza Hall who both pushed for the marijuana legislation to be passed.
The Public Safety Committee voted the marijuana proposal down 10-4 in April. Members said at the time they hadn’t had enough opportunity to discuss it with Reed’s administrative team, the Atlanta Business Journal reported.
"We went on recess, then a bridge collapsed," Mitchell told the Atlanta Business Journal. "We have all these issues that have taken up the administration's attention."
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," councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms said. "You can still be stopped and arrested."