The Atlanta City Council voted Monday to refer legislation to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana back to the public safety committee.

The legislation proposed by Councilmember Kwanza Hall would have made possession of less than an ounce marijuana a non-arrestable offense with a $75 fine.

While most of the council seemed amenable to making some kind of change to the law, Councilmember Michael Julian Bond said he was “deeply conflicted” over the issue. “I’ve lost friends to drugs and that started with marijuana,” he said, noting that he was sympathetic to those who needed medical marijuana.

Councilmember Keisha Lance Bottoms said she was concerned that the legislation would have no “meat” since both Fulton County and surrounding jurisdictions could still make arrests for possession.

Councilman Andre Dickens said conferring with Atlanta Police Chief Chief Erika Shields, other policing agencies and the courts should be a top priority before the city made any changes. He also noted that the city’s black clergymen and Atlanta Public Schools offered up no opinion on the move to decriminalize.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.