The decriminalization bill is not only more just, it is also more practical. Now, Pittsburgh courts, prosecutors, and law enforcement will no longer waste time and resources handling low-level drug offender cases. And the city coffers will see an estimated influx of $1,000,000 per year from the collection of additional fines.
Since the beginning of 2016, marijuana has been decriminalized in Pittsburgh. Decriminalization is not the same as legalization—it means that while marijuana is still officially illegal, the penalties for possession are reduced to the level of a traffic offense. As the legislative efforts to legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania have stalled, Pittsburgh’s new law is a step towards a just and practical approach to the regulation of marijuana use in the State.
Some believe that the city of Pittsburgh does not have the authority to unilaterally decriminalize a substance that is banned at both the state and federal levels. Councilwomen Darlene Harris and Theresa Kail-Smith, who voted against the decriminalization ordinance, were of the opinion that the city was overstepping its bounds, and that only the state government should legislate on drug policy.
According a report published by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in 2013, African-American residents of Allegheny County are almost six times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than their white counterparts. The rate of marijuana use, however, is similar between the two groups.
Since marijuana possession is no longer a criminal offense warranting arrest, it is likely that fewer of Pittsburgh’s African Americans will face the disproportionate effects of the war on drugs. Previously, the possession of marijuana in the city could result in a misdemeanor charge involving 30 days in jail, up to $500 in fines, and a permanent criminal history entry that could negatively affect the convict’s future employment prospects.
But according to Duquesne University law professor Bruce Ledewitz, the Pittsburgh decriminalization ordinance doesn’t conflict with state law, because it gives police officers the discretion to either issue a ticket or to make an arrest under state law. Pennsylvania does not explicitly prohibit cities and municipalities from making parallel punishments for crimes, as long as they don’t weaken state law.
According to Mayor Bill Peduto, who did not hesitate to sign the ordinance into law, Pittsburgh’s decimalization of marijuana is “a common-sense change that will help protect the futures of young people.” Indeed, minors will no longer face criminal charges for pot possession in the city. Instead, their parents will be notified and asked to pay the fine.
In December 2015, the Pittsburgh city council voted 7-2 in favor of a measure sponsored by Councilman Daniel Lavelle that decriminalizes the possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana and 8 grams of hashish. The penalty for simple possession could be as low as $25, while someone who gets caught in possession while smoking may have to pay the maximum fine of $100.
Marijuana is only decriminalized within the city limits of Pittsburgh. This means that possession is still a criminal offense in the rest of Allegheny county and the state. If you get charged with marijuana possession, you should talk to an experienced Pittsburgh marijuana lawyer. The Pittsburgh drug defense lawyers with Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC are available today to give you a free and confidential consultation of your case today at (412) 281-2146.
If you get charged with marijuana possession, talk to the Pittsburg drug defense lawyers with Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys . Free consult: (412) 219-6300.
The House passed a bill earlier this year to grant legal marijuana businesses access to banking, but it hasn’t advanced in the Senate.
The House Judiciary Committee approved the proposal 24-10 after more than two hours of debate. It would reverse a longstanding federal prohibition by removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act while allowing states to set their own rules on pot.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A divided U.S. House committee approved a proposal Wednesday to decriminalize and tax marijuana at the federal level, a vote that was alternately described as a momentous turning point in national cannabis policy or a hollow political gesture.
The vote “marks a turning point for federal cannabis policy and is truly a sign that prohibition’s days are numbered,” Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, said in a statement.
The vote comes at a time when most Americans live in states where marijuana is legal in some form, and committee members from both parties agreed that national cannabis policy lagged woefully behind changes at the state level. That divide has created a host of problems — loans and other banking services, for example, are hard to get for many marijuana companies because pot remains illegal at the federal level.
“It’s going nowhere,” said Rep. Doug Collins, a Georgia Republican.
Among its provisions, the legislation would authorize a 5% sales tax on marijuana products to fund programs aimed at assisting people and communities harmed in the so-called war on drugs, such as job training and legal aid. It also would require federal courts to expunge prior marijuana convictions.
Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said the nation has for too long “treated marijuana as a criminal justice problem, instead of a matter of personal choice and public health.”
Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee complained that the proposal to decriminalize cannabis had never had a hearing and lacked the bipartisan support needed to become law.
A divided U.S. House committee approved a proposal Wednesday to decriminalize and tax marijuana at the federal level, a vote that was alternately described as a momentous turning point in national cannabis policy or a hollow political…