Good news for fellow people of Philadelphia – starting October 20th, possession of small amounts of cannabis will be a civil offense in the city. Mayor Michael Nutter (?) has finally signed the marijuana decriminalization bill just couple of days ago during a ceremony at City Hall. The bill will go into effect by the end of this month. Although this is not legalization, it certainly is a large step towards it, as most possession offenses have now been turned into fines.
What fines expect tokers of Philadelphia?
Those of you who get caught possessing 30 grams or less of cannabis will be cited and fined $25. Those of you who get caught smoking in public will be cited and fined $100, or, if the authorities decide so, they will make you perform nine hours of community service. We are not sure how they will justify these decisions. Perhaps if you are rude with the cops you’ll have to do the community work? Oh yes, and cops will also confiscate any weed they find on you, with you or around you. Thirty grams is just a little over an ounce; most pot smokers make purchases of only an eighth of an ounce or less at once. Possessing more than 30 grams, and selling it, regardless of weight, is still a criminal offense. Also, don’t forget that you will be arrested if you fail to show your ID to an officer of the law when he catches you enjoying marijuana, or god forbid selling it.
Teaching students to resist all drugs, alcohol & tobacco
The city of Philadelphia has also announced it would “teach students how to resist all drugs, alcohol and tobacco” as a support to Philadelphia School District’s LifeSkills training program. The mayor also pledged support for efforts to re-examine criminal records of people who were convicted for possession of small amounts of pot. That’s a lovely and necessary activity that we hope is not only an empty letter on a paper.
With this new law Philadelphia has become the largest U.S city to decriminalize marijuana. City Councilman James Kenney, who is the sponsor of the bill, welcomed the new legislation as a way to address, among other issues, disproportionate marijuana arrests in the African-American community. Of the 4,614 arrests in Philadelphia for small amounts of marijuana during 2013, 83% were African-American, even though studies show the number of black and white Americans who consume marijuana is almost the same. “The most important thing here is to keep kids on a straight line and not allow someone’s life to get screwed up because of a mistake when they were young,” Kenney said. The interesting fact here is that neither mayor Nutter nor Councilman Kenney advocated use of marijuana. Mayor Nutter was critical of the legalization in past, however, he changed his mind and it is all due to the amount of punishment so many citizens have garnered for possession of such small amounts of pot, he told to CBS News.