The City by City initiative is a campaign developed by the Georgia CARE Project in collaboration with other advocacy groups like Peachtree NORML and Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP).
It represents an organized grassroots effort to advance legislative reform on a city level in the state of Georgia.
The Goals of this Campaign:
By changing local laws we can minimize the harm inflicted on Georgians by misdemeanor cannabis possession charges and prevent their entry into the criminal justice system. Research shows drug laws disproportionately impact communities of color.
Pressure the State Legislature.
Georgia CARE Project’s ultimate goal is to see state law change to accomplish the full decriminalization of cannabis. By taking criminal justice reform to the city level, outside of the state’s control, the legislature will be forced to give the issue proper consideration.
Further Change Public Opinion.
While the majority of Georgians are ready to see the decriminalization of cannabis, many remain lethargic about changing the status quo. By pushing forward local changes, they will realize that change is possible and stand up to show their support.
City Level Progress
Clarkston, GA — In 2016, the Clarkston Mayor and Council led the way in Georgia and passed an ordinance that changed the punishment for possession of less than one ounce of cannabis to a $75 fine with no arrest or criminal record.
Atlanta, GA — There is currently an ordinance under consideration by the City Council of Atlanta to change the punishment of possession less than one ounce to $75. The committee meeting considered it favorably and advanced the ordinance but the full Council referred it back to committee, expressing concerns about the required inter-jurisdictional agreements with county law enforcement agencies. We believe this was an effort to kick the can down the road and avoid having to deal with the issue but activist groups are continuing to pressure the city to pass the change.
Temple, GA — A council member in Temple proposed the consideration of a harm reduction ordinance like that in Clarkston but a public informational meeting descended into shouting and banging on tables from a small number of loud opponents. The Police Chief failed to maintain the peace and the Director of Georgia CARE Project was unable to address the group. The Council appeared to be split on the issue and a councilmember tragically died in April, and now the issue is on hold. The special election of a new councilmember may reopen the door for consideration of this reform.