Philadelphia Proposal to Decriminalize Cannabis Passes Council Committee

A key committee of the Philadelphia City Council has given approval to a bill which would decriminalize the possessionphillu of up to 30 grams of cannabis.

The measure, introduced by Councilmember Jim Kenney and approved by the Law and Government Committee, would make the possession of 30 grams or less of cannabis a simple $25 ticket, rather than an arrestable misdemeanor as it currently stands.

According to Kenney, the proposal would not only save the city millions of dollars in reduced enforcement and court costs, it would spare thousands of individuals from having a life-altering arrest over the personal possession of a plant.

“I think the problem is carrying an arrest record around for probably most of your life when you make a mistake as a 25-year-old,” says Kenney.  “That is more obnoxious than anything else we’re concerned about here.”

Unfortunately the proposal allows officers to use their discretion in situations where an individual is in possession of small amounts of cannabis, meaning they can still make an arrest if they feel the situation warrants it. Public safety director Mike Resnick spoke out about this before the vote; “The consequences could be significant as equally reasonable and well-trained law enforcement professionals make decisions in widely varying circumstances,” says Resnick.  “Consistency and fairness are the hallmarks of procedural justice, and allowing or creating such a dichotomy of possible outcomes for the same violation is simply unfair.”

The bill was sent to the full Council; a vote is expected on June 19th, the last day before the Council adjourns for the summer.

A similar proposal was approved by the Law and Government Committee in March, though that bill has since died, and been replaced with this new measure.


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