Atlanta’s city council decided unanimously to decriminalize marijuana Monday night. They voted 15-0 to make the penalty for possession of one ounce or less a $75 fine — a move that aims to neutralize uneven policing and enforcement of drug laws in the city where 92% of individuals arrested for marijuana between 2014 and 2016 were black.
What’s the difference between legalization and decriminalization?
It’s important to note that this change in Atlanta’s doesn’t make it legal to possess marijuana. It also won’t override the fact that outside Atlanta city limits, Georgia penalties for possession of marijuana include a 6-month jail term and fine of up to $1,000.
“If you get arrested by anybody but a city cop, you’re toast,” Atlanta City Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean said during a council safety committee meeting in April.
The decriminalization of weed just means that possession of the drug no longer leads to jail time. Without full legalization, weed is still an illicit substance that’s you can’t buy, grow, or sell.
In cities and states where marijuana is legalized, it can be grown, bought and sold in a regulated market, much like alcohol. [Read more at Fortune]