Atlanta mayor orders access restriction for some pot records

The mayor of Atlanta ordered city courts Monday to soon begin restricting public access to records involving people cited for minor marijuana offenses.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued an administrative order that Atlanta's Municipal Court by Feb. 1 must make court records for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana accessible only to law enforcement. Bottoms said in a statement that racial disparities in criminal cases involving small amounts of pot justified the change.

“The fact remains that communities of color are disproportionately affected by the lingering stigma of victimless, minor offenses — even long after the accused have paid their debts,” said Mayor Bottoms. “This outmoded practice deprives our communities and workforce of brilliant and promising minds, all because of an unfair justice system that can and will be course-corrected.”

The American Civil Liberties Union applauded the move.

“Some of the worst racial disparities in law enforcement show up in marijuana charges," said Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia.