Philadelphia City Council Approves Change to Cannabis Decriminalization Measure
The Philadelphia City Council voted Thursday to move forward with a bill to decriminalize the possession of up to 30 grams of cannabis for those 21 and older, making it a simple $25 ticket unless someone is caught smoking in public, wherein the ticket will be raised to $100. The Council is expected to make a final vote on the measure next week.
The Council initially approved the measure in June, though it was opposed by Mayor Michael Nutter. However, Mayor Nutter recently reversed his stance, saying that he’ll sign a bill to decriminalize cannabis as long as the ticket is increased to $100 for public consumption, and so that anyone who receives a ticket would need to appear before a Municipal Court judge (though they would receive no criminal record or jail time). Individuals would have the option of doing 9 hours of community service if they can’t afford the fine.
Of the over 4,000 annual arrests in Philadelphia for simple cannabis possession, 83% are minorities, according to Council James F. Kenney who introduced the bill.
“It follows you,” says Kenney. “If you’re young, black and trying to find a job in this economy, it’s very difficult. With a criminal arrest, it’s impossible. On top of that, you’re not eligible for college financial aid and you can’t go into the military.”
Once passed by the Council and signed into law by Mayor Nutter,. the bill will take effect on October 20th.