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.
These minor offenders, many of them African American young people, should not be saddled with a criminal arrest record and the lifelong penalties and stigma associated with it.
Numerous other cites, such as Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Orlando, have enacted similar ordinances. A majority of Georgians also support amending marijuana penalties, according to statewide survey data compiled by Public Policy Polling.
I urge you the members of this Council to vote ‘yes’ fiscally sensible proposals that will enable police, prosecutors, and the courts to reallocate their existing resources toward activities that will better serve the public.