In a 14-2 vote, Philadelphia’s city council has decided to decriminalize the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana.
After October 20, being caught with an ounce or less results in a $25 ticket, but there are harsher punishments for public usage. Perpetrators receive a $100 fine and nine hours of community service.
Although Mayor Nutter has expressed dissent for the bill, which was approved back in June, city council’s +12 vote would override any veto against it. Regardless of his previous stance on the issue, Nutter chose to sign the bill into legislation on October 1st.
Once the bill went into action, Philadelphia became the largest city in America to decriminalize cannabis, albeit in limited quantities.
“It’s response to a lot of police energy going towards arresting people for what’s now been considered ‘summary offenses’, as opposed to a ticket,” said Dean of Students Mr. Tim Dougherty.
Does this new policy affect Chester County or Malvern Prep? “There have certainly been kids who have been caught or accused of possessing marijuana on campus,” said Dougherty. “We always have teenagers (laughs), [they’re the ones who] live here. There are good and bad decisions being made here. But I don’t think Philadelphia’s policy is going to affect what we do differently out here.”
In an interview, District Attorney of Chester County Thomas P. Hogan clarified the law’s status in the local area. “The new law in Philadelphia will not be considered and will not be applied in Chester County,” said Mr. Hogan.
Hogan pointed out that the Philadelphia law has a few problems. “The new law in Philadelphia is not even applicable in Philadelphia,” he said. “Criminal laws are set by the state legislature. Philadelphia cannot opt out of a drug possession law any more than Philadelphia can opt out of the law regarding homicides.
“The Chief of the Philadelphia Police Department already pointed this out to the Philadelphia City Council,” said Hogan.
Since the new law will only be effective in the city, Pennsylvania is not included with the 18 other states, including Ohio and New York, who have passed similar laws. “We will continue to treat minors in possession of marijuana the same way as always,” said Hogan.
Whether or not this law stretches outside of Philadelphia, its outcomes could significantly affect Pennsylvania’s marijuana policy.