Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: City Council Votes to Decriminalize Marijuana

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The Philadelphia City Council has voted to work toward decriminalizing marijuana. If they are successful in getting this bill enacted into law, police officers will be able to issue tickets, rather than arrest individuals, for $25 dollars for possession of up to an ounce of weed. Basically, it all comes down to what the mayor decides to do in September, if he waits until then. He has the option to sign the bill, veto the bill, or do nothing (doing nothing would result in the bill becoming law, without his outward notion of endorsement). Therefore, the bill will have a potential three-month waiting period before it can become an official law. Advocates of the bill are pushing the mayor to give them a decision now, as they would like to know what the future will hold.

Additional to the payment of the fine, is the ability to have the charge immediately expunged. This is compared to the current punishment, which is up to a $200 fine and a mandatory three-hour class on drug abuse. The city council believes that this punishment and the fact that these individuals are often arrested and detained is burdening the courts, the police, and the county jails. Additionally, it is affecting over 4000 individuals a year but destroying their criminal records. The bill passed 13-3, therefore the City Counsel is hopeful that even if the Mayor veto’s the bill, they will be able to override this veto.

If this bill is passed, it will hold no affect outside of Philadelphia in great Pennsylvania, however there is no word as to how it may affect legislature throughout the state.