The city that brought the world the “blunt” has decided to chill out on folks who toke. As of yesterday, possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana has been downgraded to a relatively minor offense.
It’s not total decriminalization — offenders are still arrested and fingerprinted — but at the preliminary hearing on the charges, the judge will likely “divert” the case, meaning that offenders will have their record expunged after taking a class and paying a $200 fine.
Leniency won’t be shown to all who are arrested. Those snared attempting to sell pot, or who are caught with weed while in commission of a more serious crime, along with those having a previous criminal record, will likely have to face the full force of the law.
The Philly District Attorney’s office says that the decision to be less harsh to the majority of Philadelphians who inhale was a financial one. By reducing the amount of times police officers must take off their jobs to attend and testify at these trials, as well as cutting costs for public defenders, the D.D. says, “It should be a tremendous savings to the court system.”
Meanwhile, former Philadelphia D.A. Lynne Abraham isn’t showing any brotherly love for this decision. “‘Welcome to Philadelphia, Light Up a Joint’ may just be our new slogan,” she has said. “Local gangs and marijuana growers everywhere are positively overjoyed.”
Well, of course they are, silly. They’re high as a kite.
Marijuana leniency starts today [Philadelphia Inquirer]