You may have heard that Atlanta recently passed a city ordinance that “decriminalizes” the possession of marijuana, but what exactly does that mean?
The Atlanta City Council recently voted unanimously to make the penalty for possession of one ounce or less a mere $75.00 fine. That is a big change from the former sentence that included a possible 6-month jail term and a fine of up to $1,000.00. It is important to note, however, that this new ordinance does not make the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana legal. It is still illegal, but the criminal penalty is now significantly less.
What is the difference between “legalized” and “decriminalized”?
Instead of becoming “legal”, the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana has now become “decriminalized” in the city of Atlanta. This means that one ounce or less of marijuana no longer can lead to a jail sentence. However, marijuana is still an illicit substance that cannot be purchased, grown, or sold anywhere within the state of Georgia.
In cities and states where marijuana is fully legalized, it can be bought, grown, and sold.
But in Atlanta (as well as anywhere else in Georgia), the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana is not legal and thus will still have repercussions.
“What if I am caught with marijuana outside the Atlanta city limits?”
Since the new marijuana law is technically an Atlanta city ordinance, it does not apply outside of the Atlanta city limits. Therefore, if you are in possession of one ounce or less of marijuana in Roswell, Sandy Springs, Alpharetta, Norcross, or any other municipality outside of Atlanta, the potential still exists for a 6-month jail sentence and $1,000.00 fine.
“What if I am inside the Atlanta city limits, but am apprehended by a Georgia State Trooper?”
While the new marijuana law would technically be in effect within the Atlanta city limits, it will only apply when you are apprehended by an Atlanta Police Officer. If you are dealing with anyone other than a city police officer, the marijuana city ordinance will not apply and the possibly sentence will be much greater than a $75.00 fine.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding this new city ordinance, please do not hesitate to contact the Don Turner Legal Team at (770) 594-1777.