In the near future, having a little bit of weed in your pocket while strolling the streets of Philadelphia will not make you a criminal.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, a 1979 Wharton graduate, confirmed Monday that he will sign a bill that will lessen penalties for possession of marijuana.
The bill would make possession of about an ounce of pot punishable only by a $25 fine, with the matter never entering the court system.
Nutter and Councilperson Jim Kenney reached a compromise on the legislation — which Kenney first introduced in May — that calls for a separate offense for public use of the drug.
While Nutter has previously criticized Philadelphia City Council’s efforts to decriminalize marijuana for neglecting larger issues such as jobs and education, he eventually agreed that the compromise “ends up putting the city and our citizens in a much better place,” Nutter told CBS Philly. He added that decriminalizing marijuana possession was not the same as condoning its usage.
The new bill will charge those caught using marijuana in public with a noncriminal summary offense and a $100 fine or up to nine hours of community service. Philadelphians caught possessing fewer than 30 grams will be issued a citation and fined $25.
The offender will not face criminal charges or arrest for either possession of under 30 grams or public use. This is a significant softening from the previous penalty package of a $200 fine, drug abuse class and an arrest record.
Kenney said to CBS Philly that this approach will spare more than 4,000 people from being arrested each year and will save the Philadelphia Police Department about $4 million a year.
The law, if passed, will make Philadelphia the largest city in the United States to decriminalize marijuana possession.
The bill will be amended this coming Thursday, when City Council returns from its summer recess. The bill will undergo a final vote a week later, where it is expected to pass, and will then be sent to Nutter for his signature.
Regardless of Philadelphia or Pennsylvania law, Penn’s Code of Student Conduct still prohibits use of marijuana on campus and is unlikely to change as long as marijuana is outlawed on the federal level.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.