COA Decriminalization of Marijuana Statement
We are aware there is a lot of misinformation on the passage of legislation by the Atlanta City Council on Monday concerning penalties for marijuana possession, including questions about decriminalization. To be clear, possession of marijuana - in any amount - is still a violation of city ordinances and state law. The legislation passed by City Council, which is pending consideration by Mayor Kasim Reed, does not speak to enforcement of marijuana laws by police. The new legislation simply lessens penalties imposed by the Municipal Court for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana under the City Code.
Our focus here at APD is on getting violent criminals off the streets. Our officers are not out patrolling for people smoking marijuana; we’d rather focus on those committing armed robberies and other violent acts. But marijuana possession is still a crime. Officers will continue to have the discretion of writing a citation for possession of less than an ounce or transporting the arrestee to jail for booking – that has not changed. We want to be sure people who live, work and visit the City of Atlanta are clear on any potential changes to the law with regard to marijuana possession.