Early Monday morning, city leaders in Atlanta voted to decriminalize marijuana. The legislation will reduce possession of marijuana in amounts less than one ounce to a $75 fine and no jail time. In the past, it was punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a fine up to $1,000.
The vote to decriminalize passed unanimously, 15-0. In September, Councilman Kwanza Hall stated the following,
“Ninety-two percent of the people arrested for marijuana possession of less than an ounce and who are in our jail are African American, and that is wrong. We should be ashamed of ourselves, and we have to change this law immediately”
It was also stated that families are being torn apart and lives were being ruined by the criminal penalties associated with possession. Individuals would lose scholarships or be barred from certain employment opportunities due to the criminal charge.
The Atlanta city council is planning a series of criminal justice reform policies (PDF of specific proposals available at bottom of page). Decriminalizing marijuana is just one piece of that puzzle.
The legislation, which was resurrected in September after spending months in committees because of concerns it might send the wrong message, brings Atlanta closer to other large cities across the nation that are either lessening penalties on pot or decriminalizing it altogether as Americans’ opinions on the drug evolve.
It will reduce the financial penalty for possession of one ounce or less from up to $1,000 to a maximum of $75. Jail time, currently six months for possession, would be eliminated for an ounce or less.
City councilman Kwanza Hall introduced the measure back in March. It calls for reducing the penalty for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana to a $75 fine and no jail time. That’s a dramatic drop from the penalty currently in place under state law which calls for up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
“In Atlanta and in Fulton County, 92 percent of the arrests for small amounts of marijuana are the arrests of African-Americans, that is the most biased rate of arrests in the country,” councilman Hall told CBS46 News in September. “It’s not easy to convince a majority of 8 to 10 people and ideally a majority to agree to do something.”
“The available evidence indicates that the decriminalization of marijuana possession had little or no impact on rates of use. Although rates of marijuana use increased in those U.S. states [that] reduced maximum penalties for possession to a fine, the prevalence of use increased at similar or higher rates in those states [that] retained more severe penalties. There were also no discernible impacts on the health care systems. On the other hand, the so-called ‘decriminalization’ measures did result in substantial savings in the criminal justice system.”
Our conclusion is that state-level marijuana legalizations to date have been associated with, at most, modest changes in marijuana use and related outcomes. Our estimates cannot rule out small changes, and related literature finds some effects from earlier marijuana policy changes such as medicalization. But the strong claims about legalization made by both opponents and supporters are not apparent in the data. The absence of significant adverse consequences is especially striking given the sometimes dire predictions made by legalization opponents.
Very proud of the City Council in my hometown of Atlanta for just voting to decriminalize marijuana possession for under 1 ounce. A start.
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) October 2, 2017
They're really trying to decriminalize marijuana in Atlanta. So many political leaders are on the radio advocating and I'm proud.
— Alecks (@_TheLastProphet) October 2, 2017
In Atlanta, 93% of the people arrested for marijuana are African American. That don't sound bias to y'all?
— Jayson A. (@norocksforthots) September 26, 2017
Marijuana possession under an ounce is now punishable by a fine instead of imprisonment in Atlanta. Big ups to the city for this move.
— FreeFlare 🐻 (@Vin_Sgod4oo) October 3, 2017
The reactions I’ve seen to this have been largely positive. As someone who believes that the individual should be in charge of their decisions, I am not entirely against the measure. That being said, I question whether this measure and others around the nation are taken with prudence in mind or if the communities will regret the decision down the road.
[NB: As a Georgia resident, I asked my lawyer “isn’t that against [Georgia] state law?” – he answered “Maybe.” So apparently a city could do this. But it would open a challenge. –Editor]
Harden scores 48 points, Rockets beat Lakers 138-134 in OT
HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden was the star for the Houston Rockets as usual on Saturday night, but he and the team got a big boost from Eric Gordon in his second game back after recovering from a bruised knee.
Harden scored 48 points, Gordon added 30 and the Rockets overcame a 21-point deficit to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 138-134 in overtime.
The Rockets trailed for most of the night and were down by 18 in the second-half. Gordon sent it to overtime with a 3-pointer, and made four free throws in the last seconds of the extra period.
“He’s playing unbelievable,” coach Mike D’Antoni said of Gordon.
Coming off 57- and 58-point games, Harden had his 19th straight game with at least 30 and he’s had 40 in 10 of the last 13. He was 14 of 30 from the field, going 8 of 19 on 3-pointers, and hit 12 of 15 free throws.
Harden was asked if Gordon being back after missing eight games before his return on Wednesday night eased the burden on him a little bit.
“A little bit? It takes a lot of burden off me,” Harden said. “He’s so offensively gifted and talented being able to shoot the basketball, being able to get to the rim, being able to make plays for others. You get a guy like that on the floor with you it makes it easier for not only myself but for everybody.”
Brandon Ingram missed a 3 for Los Angeles before Harden hit 1 of 2 free throws to make it 132-130 with less than a minute left. Ingram tied it with a basket, and Harden again made 1 of 2 free throws to make it 133-132.
Los Angeles missed a 3 before Gordon also made just 1 of 2 free throws to leave Houston up by two with 12.6 seconds left. Kyle Kuzma lost the ball and it went out of bounds to give Houston the ball back. Gordon added four free throws after that to secure the victory.
It was the second straight overtime game for both teams after Houston lost to Brooklyn on Wednesday night and Los Angeles beat Oklahoma City on Thursday night.
Kuzma had 32 points for Los Angeles and Ingram added 21 in a game where coach Luke Walton was ejected in the third quarter.
Already without LeBron James and Rajon Rondo, the Lakers have another injury concern after Lonzo Ball sprained his left ankle in the third quarter. Walton said his X-rays were negative but that he’d have an MRI and “we’ll see where we are after that.”
Four straight points by the Lakers stretched the lead to nine in the fourth quarter, but Harden and Gordon made consecutive 3-pointers cut it to 112-109 with about two minutes remaining.
Los Angeles made four free throws to make it 116-109 about a minute later, but Harden made two 3-pointers around a basket by Ivica Zubac to get Houston within three with about 30 seconds left.
Lance Stephenson missed a 3-pointer and Harden made two free throws to cut the lead to 118-117 with 5.7 seconds left.
Zubac made two more free throws before Gordon’s off-balance 3-pointer with 2 seconds left sent it to OT.
“I saw Kentavious Caldwell-Pope running out to me and I thought he was going to fly right by me, but he stood right there,” Gordon said. “So I had to try to shoot it with confidence and I’m glad it went in.”
The Lakers built a huge lead early and were up 64-46 at halftime, with Kuzma scoring 24 points.
They were ahead by 17 with about eight minutes left in the third quarter after scoring five straight points capped by a basket from Kuzma before Houston scored the next 15 points to cut it to 74-72 three minutes later. James Ennis had five points in that stretch and P.J. Tucker capped it with a 3-pointer.
Ball was injured just before Houston’s run began. He remained on the court for a couple of minutes talking with trainer’s before he was helped to his feet where he hopped on his right foot for a few steps before being carried off the court and to the locker room by Stephenson and Michael Beasley.
Walton was ejected a couple of minutes after that when he got two technical fouls after yelling at officials during a timeout.
Ingram pointed to losing Ball as when things started to get away from the Lakers.
“Right when Lonzo went out,” he said. “That’s exactly when it went away. We lost momentum a little bit.”
Lakers: James was out for the 13th straight game with a strained left groin and did not make the trip. … Stephenson finished with 16 points.
Rockets: Harden also had eight rebounds, six assists and four steals. … Ennis returned after missing Wednesday’s game after cutting his left leg in a fall at his house. … Chris Paul missed his 14th game in a row with a strained left hamstring … Clint Capela had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb and is expected to be out 4-6 weeks.
THEY SAID IT
D’Antoni on Houston’s comeback: “Words don’t do it. That was just our guys showing a lot of heart.”
Lakers: Host Golden State on Monday night.
Rockets: Visit Philadelphia on Monday night.
Pirro: Democrats putting politics over people
Following President Trump’s speech to America with his compromise offer to Democrats to secure the border and end the government shutdown, Fox News host Judge Jeanine Pirro was in rare form as she went after Democrats for instantly rejecting the proposal. Her biggest target was Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
The President has requested funds in order to build a small portion of the border wall, render humanitarian assistance, improve drug detection technology, and hire 2,750 additional border patrol agents and 75 immigration judge teams. In exchange, he’s offering three years of extended protection for DACA recipients and those with Temporary Protected Status.
Here was her response:
Democrats were hopeful that @realDonaldTrump was finally willing to re-open government & proceed with a much-needed discussion to protect the border. Unfortunately, reports make clear that his proposal is a compilation of previously rejected initiatives. https://t.co/MFwebWSevG pic.twitter.com/yMTm4iP27h
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) January 19, 2019
There are many conservatives who are against the proposal. Under normal circumstances, I would be as well. But we’re approaching a full month of the government shutdown. Enough is enough.
‘Unsolved Mysteries’ is coming back, only ‘Stranger’
Robert Stack brought us over 500 Unsolved Mysteries episodes from 1987 to 2010 across three networks. Apparently, that’s not enough, and now the executive producer of Stranger Things wants a shot at rebooting the iconic television show for Netflix.
The series, which was hosted by Robert Stack and ran for over 500 episodes between 1987 and 2010, is being refreshed by Stranger Things EP Shawn Levy and his company 21 Laps Entertainment and Netflix.
The 12-part show will use re-enactments in a documentary format to profile real-life mysteries and unsolved crimes, lost love, cases involving missing persons and unexplained paranormal events. Each episode will focus on one mystery. In the original series, actors played the victims, criminals and witnesses but family members and police were regularly interviewed.
This is one of those shows that really doesn’t have a conclusion. It could conceivably go on indefinitely because there are always new and interesting mysteries to be solved. Since each one has its own spin and attachment to reality, there’s no need to worry about fatigue.
Some shows need to be buried forever. Others have a valid reason to keep going and get a reboot. Unsolved Mysteries falls in the latter category.
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