Marijuana Reform News Review Today in Pennsylvania:
Although marijuana use has not yet been legalized across the state of Pennsylvania, reform is still happening. Philadelphia recently passed laws to decriminalize marijuana within city limits and now Pittsburgh is taking action to do the same. It is not yet a done deal in the city of Pittsburgh, but Council members there have met and discussed decriminalization on multiple occasions and it appears that an approval vote will take place as soon as next week. Although states across the U.S. are passing laws to permit the use of medical and recreational marijuana, the action in Pittsburgh should not be construed as the same thing. There is a difference between legalization and decriminalization.
Marijuana legalization and decriminalization are not the same thing. Legalization of marijuana removes criminal penalties associated with marijuana use and possession, and it gives the local, state, and federal government an avenue for additional tax revenues through the taxation and regulation of the legal marijuana market. Decriminalization of marijuana does not make marijuana legally available for sale and distribution, but does reduce or remove criminal penalties associated with possession and use. Marijuana is still illegal in the sate of Pennsylvania for medical or recreational use, but Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have taken action to decriminalize possession and use. The final vote to decriminalize marijuana in the city of Pittsburgh is set for Monday, the 21st of December.
Pittsburgh takes Action to decriminalize Marijuana:
Although the final vote has not taken place yet, the Pittsburgh City Council may officially decriminalize marijuana next week. The City Council held another preliminary vote this week and the results were 6-1 in favor of a bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Councilman Daniel Lavelle sponsored the bill and relays that if passed, it will help to minimize the number of lives ruined by the consequences of a minor marijuana offense. If the final vote is in favor of decriminalizing marijuana within city limits, the ordinance would allow police to seize small amounts of marijuana from persons and issue a $100 fine. Someone in possession of about 30 grams of marijuana would receive this citation. Right now, the potential punishment for marijuana possession is up to 30 days in jail and a possible $500 fine in the city of Pittsburgh. It should be noted that the action to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana is supported by the city’s police department. Given the approval vote next week, Pittsburgh will be the second major city in the state of Pennsylvania to decriminalize marijuana.