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||Posted June 08, 2010 by Derek Rosenzweig
by Derek Rosenzweig, Secretary of PhillyNORML
On April 5th, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced
that Philadelphia county would be easing marijuana possession penalties. Those in possession of 30g (just over one ounce, or about a month's worth of cannabis for a daily smoker) or less will no longer face a criminal record or jail time for a first time offense. This policy went into effect today.
Due to a software issue, the DA's office must wait to make it a full-out summary offense where they simply issue a ticket instead of do a custodial arrest (including fingerprints, photos, etc). Hopefully the city's IT department will be able to fix that problem and citizens of Philadelphia can get the full benefits of DA William's policy.
Still, this gives hope to marijuana law reformers that despite the entrenched war on drugs, change can be made locally to dramatic effect. In Philly, this means saving $3,000,000 - $5,000,000 per year and not ruining the lives of about 3,500 residents by giving them an unnecessary criminal record. Indeed, welcome to Philadelphia, light up a joint, just don't walk up to a cop while you're doing it.