Brief: Philadelphia to Become Nation’s Largest City to Decriminalize Pot

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter confirmed Monday that he will sign the city’s bill to decriminalize cannabis possession. Similar to other decriminalization bills passed in other major cities, this bill reduces the penalty for possession of small quantities of marijuana to a mere $25 civil fine. With this development, Philadelphia is set to become the largest city in the nation to decriminalize marijuana.

The bill was originally proposed by City Councilman Jim Kenney in May. Originally opposed to the bill, Mayor Nutter’s caveat for signing the bill was the addition of a $100 fine for smoking in public — however, this fine can be waived following several hours of public service.

Under current law, marijuana possession is punishable with at least a $200 fine, a course on drug abuse, and a criminal record. Kenney explains precisely how the new amendment improves on the outdated system:

“We’ve gotten to a place where it is out of the criminal realm. There’s no more handcuffs, no more bookings, no more criminal record… We have so many young people that we are putting in the prison pipeline, and the poverty pipeline, because a criminal record is a debilitating thing.”

The bill is expected to save the Philadelphia Police Department approximately $4 million per year. Additionally, it will prevent an annual 4,000 innocent people from being arrested for something as harmless as marijuana.


Photo Credit: Kevin Burket

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