Marijuana Legalization 2014: Philadelphia Set to Decriminalize Cannabis
Philadelphia is poised to be the next city in the nation to legalize marijuana, based on an agreement to sign the law by Mayor Michael Nutter.
CBS Philly reports Nutter agreed Tuesday to sign a law that will decriminalize marijuana, but only after certain tweaks are made.
The original bill by councilman Jim Kenney needs to be changed, but the bill essentially issues parking-ticket-type citations for possession of an ounce or less.
"We've gotten to a place where it is out of the criminal realm. There's no more handcuffs, no more bookings, no more criminal record. Police will not have to leave their posts and go to the station house to deal with this. People will pay a fine based on the offense: $25 for the possession of anything under an ounce," Kenney said.
The current criminal laws result in criminal records for thousands each year, and are a cost burden to the police department.
More than 4,400 people would be spared from arrest, and the police department would save about $4 million each year, Kenney said.
"There will be no criminal record for an individual. And that's a major step," Kenney told CBS. "We have so many people that we are putting in the prison pipeline, and the poverty pipeline, because a criminal record is a debilitating thing."
The bill requires anyone cited to appear in municipal court, and those found smoking marijuana in public would be charged up to a $100 fine -- but the fine may be waived if they agree to public service, CBS reports.
Nutter admitted he was initially apprehensive about the issue but stresses the move does not signal that he condones the use of marijuana.
"So I think the agreement ends up putting the city and our citizens in a much better place. This is about how we deal with penalties in that regard. And there will be penalties. There's a consequence to people violating the law," Nutter said.
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