Atlanta Mayor Reed unsure if he’ll sign law lowering marijuana fines

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said Friday he is unsure whether he would sign city legislation that would eliminate jail time for smoking pot.

The city council is set to consider legislation that would lower fines for possessing marijuana to $75, and would eliminate jail time. Now people caught with marijuana in Atlanta are required to pay a fine of up to $1,000 and can spend as long as six months in jail.

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

Reed, who said he does not believe in legalizing marijuana, said he’s weighing his options.

“I’m following the debate very closely,” he said.

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While Reed said he believes marijuana is a gateway drug, he also said he thinks the punishment “disproportionately affects brown people.”

Between 2014 and 2016, 92 percent of people arrested in Atlanta for possessing marijuana were African-American, according to the Racial Justice Action Center.

The state legislature this year loosened the restrictions on medical marijuana for people with autism, AIDS and other ailments.

“Making marijuana more easily available and penalizing it less sounds good if you have a traditional family structure,” Reed said. “It’s a different thing if you’re a single mom trying to raise a teenager.”

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