By Mike Dougherty

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Members of a Philadelphia community organization gathered this morning on the steps of City Hall to thank Mayor Nutter for his pledge to sign a marijuana decriminalization bill.

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It was originally planned as a demonstration to urge the mayor to approve the legislation, but it was recast after Nutter indicated earlier this week he would sign the measure.

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“Way too many of our young people are getting caught up in the system for very, very minor infractions,” said Archye Leacock (far right in photo), executive director of the Institute for the Development of African-American Youth.  He says he would like to see young people get a second chance after a mistake that many people make.

“Once you get arrested and you get a criminal record, that stays with you for life,” he notes.

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There are about 4,000 arrests  in Philadelphia every year for possession of a small amount of marijuana, and Leacock says many of those are young African-Americans who then have trouble finding jobs or getting into college.

“The system is way too harsh in treating our young people, and not enough flexibility,” he said today.

He says everyone makes mistakes when they are teenagers, and this bill will help people move on to have successful adult lives.


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