According to ReformGeorgia, a statewide advocacy group that tracks criminal justice reform issues, 10 other cities or counties have passed similar ordinances, including some large municipalities like Atlanta, Savannah and Macon-Bibb County. Clarkston was the first city in the state to pass a decriminalization law in 2016.
“This is indicative of the broader change of attitude throughout the state that we do not need to be locking up individuals because of minor drug violations, especially for marijuana, and that the state needs to take comprehensive measures to protect all Georgians from needless entry into Georgia's already crowded criminal justice system,” Maxwell Ruppersburg, the group’s executive director, said in a statement about Chamblee’s ordinance.
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Studies have shown that black and Latino people are more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession, though usage is about the same across racial groups, experts say.
Mock said the change in the law will also save the city time and money.
“It takes a lot of manpower to arrest, transport, process and detain a prisoner, not to mention the court process to follow,” he said.
Municipal rules can’t impact every case involving weed. If someone is charged with marijuana possession on top of a more serious criminal offense, the case has to go to state court and the defendant would be subject to the harsher penalties.
According to ReformGeorgia, these are the 11 cities and counties in Georgia that have decriminalized the possession of marijuana:
- South Fulton
- Fulton County (unincorporated)
- Forest Park
- Macon-Bibb County
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