Philly Signs Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

Starting October 20th, people possessing small amounts of marijuana in Philadelphia will no longer be subject to arrest.

Starting October 20th, possession of small amounts of marijuana will be a civil offense in the city of Philadelphia.

Mayor Michael Nutter signed Jim Kenney’s marijuana decriminalization bill in a ceremony at City Hall today. It goes into effect later this month.

This isn’t legalization, but most possession offenses have been turned into fines. Those possessing 30 grams or less of marijuana will be cited and fined $25. Those smoking in public will be cited and fined $100, or made to perform nine hours of community service. Cops will also confiscate any weed they find. Thirty grams is just a little over an ounce; most pot smokers make purchases of only an eighth of an ounce or less at once.

Possessing more than 30 grams, and dealing regardless of weight, is still a criminal offense. A tweet from the city says you can also still be arrested for failing to show ID to an officer when caught with marijuana. So, those without government identification could still be arrested under the new law.

At the same time, the city announced it would “teach students to resist all drugs, alcohol & tobacco” by supporting the Philadelphia School District’s LifeSkills training program. Nutter also signed an executive order providing Community Legal Services with $100,000 to help ex-convicts have their records expunged.

The city also plans an outreach campaign to educated the public on the new law, and promote education about services for addiction treatment.

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Independent journalist and funder of We Are Change, a grassroots media outlet.

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