Not many people attended Tuesday’s council meeting on decriminalizing marijuana in the city of South Fulton. But those that did spoke up.
City officials heard from residents on a controversial proposal that would keep people out of jail if they’re caught with an ounce or less of marijuana.
Though opinions differed on the decision, the decided to decriminalize marijuana.
South Fulton Mayor pro-tem Mark Baker sponsored the legislation. The former law enforcement officer and college professor in African-American studies says it’s one of the most important pieces of legislation right now.
“Statistics show that 92 percent of the arrests in Atlanta metro area have been African-American people for less than an ounce of marijuana,” Baker told CBS46 News. “We’re a new city but we’re progressive and we’re just trying to be on the right side of history.”
Because according to him, the arrests happening as a result of less than an ounce have consequences with more impacts.
“These arrests may affect and impact them in several different ways when it comes to checking the box regarding employment, scholarship, student loans , financial aid,” continued Baker.
He says half of the fine money will go to programs for treatment. Baker held a forum for the people before the vote and tells CBS46 the majority are in favor of a move the city of Atlanta also made.
“We’re right on the outskirts. You cross I-285 into Cascade and you’re thinking you’re in Atlanta. If we don’t have this law in place, you’re not getting charged $75, or actually $150 over here. But at the same time, you could have six months plus a $1,000 jail fine just by crossing borders of a Union City, or College Park.”
DeKalb County’s Clarkston first led the way in 2016, marking a historic change in how Georgia deals with marijuana possession.
Possession of marijuana is still illegal but if the proposal passes and you’re caught with less than an ounce, you would face a fine of $150 instead of jail time, similar to a traffic violation.