In South Fulton, people who are found with less than an ounce of marijuana will be fined up to $150. Under state law, the punishment is a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail. Clarkston and Atlanta both fine people up to $75.
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Mayor Pro Tem Mark Baker, who proposed the measure, cited the disproportionate number of black people who are charged with possession as an impetus to make the change. In Atlanta, he said, 92 percent of people who are charged with possession are black.
The South Fulton mayor and all members of the council are black, and about 90 percent of the city’s 100,000 residents are black, according to the city. With possession arrests, people can have difficulty getting jobs and housing, due to their criminal records. Baker said the focus of the measure is criminal justice reform, and he wanted to “do something today so we can have the community most people want to have tomorrow.”
One person, Horace Copridge, spoke against the proposal, saying “things are going down” in the year-old city. But other residents hoped that it would pass. Brenda Jenkins, a South Fulton resident, said she isn’t a marijuana user and didn’t expect to be caught — though “when I left my mom’s house and went to college, I did smoke some joints,” she said — but was in favor of the measure.
“There are so many ways a little thing can impact a person’s life,” she said. Reducing the penalty is “just