Chamblee City Councilmember Brian Mock led a successful effort to make Chamblee the 12th local government in Georgia to decriminalize possession of marijuana.
The Chamblee City Council unanimously passed the ordinance on Sept. 17 that reduces the fine for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana to just $75 for a first offense, according to the ordinance. The fine is payable online and no court date is required for adult offenders.
The previous punishment for possessing an ounce or less of marijuana was a $1,000 fine or up to one year in prison, according to the AJC.
The racial disparity in arrests for marijuana possession is “astounding,” according to Mock, the only openly LGBTQ member of the council.
“While the number of users is about equal no matter one’s skin color, those with brown skin are four times more likely to go to jail for minor possession and that’s just unacceptable,” he told Project Q Atlanta.
Mock added that the previous punishment was a drain on city resources.
“It takes a lot of manpower to arrest, detain, transport and incarcerate someone for a minor offense,” he said. “Added to that is a waste of court resources.”
Clarkston was the first Georgia city to decriminalize marijuana in 2016. Atlanta followed in 2017 and since then, Savannah, South Fulton, Fulton County, Forest Park, Statesboro, Kingsland, Fairburn, Macon-Bibb County and Augusta-Richmond County have also done so, according to criminal justice reform group ReformGeorgia.
Mock also led the effort to pass a sweeping LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinance in Chamblee in April.
For more on the LGBTQ-led effort to legalize, distribute and use cannabis and its derivative products in Georgia, check out the latest Q cover story.