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Residents React To City Council’s Bill To Decriminalize Small Amounts Of Pot

Matt-Rivers-web-headshot Matt Rivers
Matt Rivers joined CBS 3 and The CW Philly’s Eyewitness News team ...
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By Matt Rivers

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A bill passed by a 14 to 2 vote in City Council Thursday drastically changed Philadelphia’s marijuana laws.

The new law, authored by Councilman Jim Kenney, allows police will be able to write a $25 citation to a person in possession of one ounce or less of marijuana.

They can still arrest if they choose, but the bill’s proponents hope they won’t. By avoiding an arrest, they say, people can keep small offense off criminal records.

“I don’t think someone who does something out of youth ‘knucleheadeness’, and we’ve all made mistakes, should have to pay for that forever,” said Councilman Kenney.

Given Philadelphia’s liberal leanings, it’s not surprising CBS 3 found many people happy with the new law.

“I think it’s great because it’s a small amount of money and people can move on,” said Jessica Murphy, of Fishtown.

“I think a ticket is fine for that type of infraction,” said Jennifer Scott, of Fishtown. “I mean, people do dumb things all the time in public and get a ticket for it.”

Not everyone is happy with the new law, however, with some arguing the fine is too low.  The $25 fine is the same you would pay for letting the weeds grow too high in your front yard.

You would pay a $50 fine for public urination, a $100 fine for running a red light, and up to $300 for open container violations.

City councilman Denny O’Brien voted against the bill, and said it supersedes state law.  If it’s illegal at the state capitol, he said, it should be illegal in Philadelphia too.

“If you want to make this a summary offense, you have to go to Harrisburg to do that,” said O’Brien.  “It creates a lot of administration issues.”

Mayor Michael Nutter hasn’t said if he will sign the bill. If he vetoes it though, sources tell CBS 3 that veto will likely be overturned by city council.

So while we’re not sure when the law will be implemented, it looks like it’s here to stay.

 

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