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According to The Philadelphia Tribune, members of the Institute for the Development of African American Youth (IDAAY), as well as other organizations, congratulated Mayor Michael Nutter for agreeing to sign a bill to decriminalize marijuana possession in Philadelphia.
Archye Lealock, IDAAY’s executive director, and others continued on with a rally Wednesday at City Hall even after the agreement earlier in the week between Nutter and the chief legislative sponsor of the bill, Councilman James Kenney.
“I am very pleased that we have reached this commonsense agreement that will improve opportunity for countless Philadelphians,” Kenney stated. “Under this new policy, police officers will be able to remain focused on more serious offenses, and many young people will be spared the life-altering consequences of a criminal record, such as limited job prospects, inability to obtain student loans or even join the armed services.”
However, using and possessing any amount of marijuana will not be legal in Philadelphia. The amended bill will decriminalize possession of the plant in small amounts. An offense involving 30 grams or less will result in a civil penalty — a citation and $25 fine — and not an arrest or criminal record.
Kenney, Lealock, and other stakeholders of the bill have long distressed the costs involved with prosecuting marijuana possession in small amounts. Annually, $3 million is spent, in addition to the 17,000 police hours dedicated to arresting citizens in possession of small amounts of marijuana.
“We want to ensure that the punishment for using or possessing a small amount of marijuana is commensurate with the severity of the crime while giving police officers the tools they need to protect the heath and well-being of all Philadelphians. Our agreement on this bill is an example of the legislative process working to bring people together, create discussion around an important issue and ultimately reach consensus,” the mayor said.