Atlanta, Georgia and Fulton officials to discuss marijuana  penalties Thursday

Atlanta Police, city corrections officials, Fulton County and representatives of the state will meet Thursday to see if they can find common ground on a proposal to relax penalties on possession of small amounts of marijuana in the state’s capital.

The reason: Backers of the legislation say the different jurisdictions must be on the same page for the changes to work.

People on both sides of the issue filled a committee hearing Tuesday afternoon.

The Atlanta City Council is considering lowering fines to $75 for marijuana possession of an ounce or less and eliminating jail time for the offense, a move that is being adopted by a number of cities around the U.S.

But it won’t work if those arrested are charged under Georgia law, which brings with it jail time of six months and a fine of up to $1,000. 

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“If you get arrested by anybody but a city cop, you’re toast,” City Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean said Tuesday during the council’s safety committee meeting.

The city is grappling with the issue because of the disproportionate number of black Americans incarcerated because of pot possession.

Between 2014 and 2016, 92 percent of those arrested in Atlanta for possession were African American and 85 percent were male, according to the Racial Justice Action Center in East Point. 

An American Civil Liberties Union analysis of marijuana arrests between 2001 and 2010 found blacks were 3.73 times more likely to be arrested nationally for possession of the drug than whites.

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