Twin cannabis plants in a pot on an outdoor patio.


Erie, Pennsylvania City Council Moves to Decriminalize Cannabis Possession

The Erie, Pennsylvania City Council has voted to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis, according to a YourErie report. The measure would reduce the charges for possession of fewer than 30 grams from a misdemeanor to a summary offense, carrying a penalty of $25. Under current law, cannabis possession of 30 grams or less carries a penalty of 30 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.

The new ordinance also provides a $100 fine for paraphernalia possession or using cannabis in public.

“The purpose of this is to take otherwise law-abiding citizens and not lump them in with drug dealers and gangbangers and criminals, but to give them a chance and an opportunity to rehab – so that the punishment fits the crime.” – Erie City Councilman Bob Merski, to YourErie

Merski believes that city police will respect the ordinance although cannabis remains illegal at state and local levels in Pennsylvania. Cannabis is a Schedule I Controlled Substance according to the federal government.

The ordinance needs to be approved by Mayor Joe Schember, who Merski indicated supports the reforms.

Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, has previously indicated support for statewide decriminalization, citing the number of people imprisoned for possessing small amounts of cannabis. He has, so far, taken a “wait and see” approach to broad adult-use legalization.

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