In the final moments of its 2015 legislative session, the Pittsburgh City Council voted 7-2 in favor of the decriminalization of cannabis within city limits.

Councilman David Lavelle sponsored the bill, which makes the penalty for possession a civil fine of up to $100 when dealing with small amounts of cannabis: up to 30 grams of flower and up to 8 grams of hashish or other concentrated marijuana products.

Mayor Bill Peduto intends to sign the bill and, according to a spokesperson from the mayor’s office, sees this development as “a common-sense change that will help protect the futures of young people.”

Marijuana activist Patrick Nightingale praised the move, saying that the change “will protect Pittsburghers of all colors and all ages from unwarranted and unnecessary police interactions, and it will help police more efficiently utilize limited resources.”

Councilman Ricky Burgess — who voted in favor of decriminalization — said that while he does not condone drug use, “I think young people who make mistakes should not suffer lifelong consequences on something that I think is perhaps not life-threatening.”

Councilwomen Theresa Kail-Smith and Darlene Harris were the only to oppose the bill, and claimed to do so because they believe such a move would be more appropriately taken by state lawmakers.

Photo Credit: Jon Dawson

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