Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has taken a major stride in the increasing efforts to decriminalize marijuana.
On Tuesday, Reed signed a bill lessening the severity of punishment for those found with small amounts of marijuana in their possession. The mayor’s press release clarifies the new legislation won’t decriminalize or legalize weed. But it does reduce the penalty for possessing less than an ounce of marijuana from $1,000 to $75. It also eliminates jail time as a consequence for possession.
The two-term mayor cited the significant racial discrepancies among marijuana arrests. The ACLU reports Blacks are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than any other race.
“People of color, young and low-income people are disproportionately jailed—with sentences up to six months—for possessing small amounts of marijuana,” Reed wrote in the press release. “An average of 1,000 people are arrested each year in Atlanta for possession only. We needed to change that. I believe our public safety resources are better directed to stopping and preventing violent crime.”
Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh have also reduced their penalties for small quantities of weed in recent years.