Philadelphia officials decriminalize small amount of marijuana

Credit: Wiki Commons
Credit: Wiki Commons

Pot smokers in Philadelphia were given some breathing room on Thursday.

City Council voted 13-3 to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana before breaking for summer recess.

The bill, championed by Councilman Jim Kenney, will allow police to issue a $25 fine for the possession of under an ounce of pot instead of taking violators to jail.

The three Republican councilman — Dennis O’Brien, David Oh and Brian O’Neil — all voted against the measure.

O’Brien said he felt residents may get the idea that marijuana is no longer illegal in the state of Pennsylvania, and only state lawmakers should grant such changes.

Tashira Moss and her friend Ryan Damon were arrested on May 30 for possession of a small amount of marijuana. Moss went before Council on Thursday and told a full room that she was fired from her job after her arrest.

“I have a record now,” said Moss, who formerly worked at a rental car agency. “Now I don’t know who will hire me. It isn’t right.”

Pastor Darrell Robinson of Yesha Ministries followed Moss and spread his arms at the podium.

“If these young people are not able to get a job, what are their alternatives to take care of themselves and their family?”

“Hopefully,” he said,”this will stop some of the bleeding.”

Councilman Jim Kenney said he will write Mayor Michael Nutter a letter asking him to issue an executive order that will put the bill in place immediately.

While the 13 supportive votes prevent Nutter from vetoing the bill, he can still delay its passage by sending it back to Council for another vote, who are recessed until September.

“I think now that it’s clear that it’s veto proof and the summer is starting, there is no point in having 300 or 400 people locked up over the course of the summer,” Kenney said.

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