Before I went to work today, I posted an article highlighting the (at that time) upcoming vote on marijuana decriminalization in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I was very delighted to read on social media that the vote did indeed occur, and that the Pittsburgh City Council approved the proposal by a wide margin. Per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
By a vote of 7-2, Pittsburgh City Council passed a measure to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana this morning.
The bill allows city police to fine up to $100 for possessing less than 30 grams of marijuana, or 8 grams of hashish, instead of citing them for a misdemeanor. Its sponsor, Public Safety Committee chair Daniel Lavelle, previously said the measure was intended to “help break the damning life-long consequences of unemployment, lack of education, and being caught in a revolving criminal justice system.”
Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith, who along with Darlene Harris voted against the bill, said she sympathized with those goals, but said it was “irresponsible” to pass such a bill at the local level. She noted that her district, which encompasses southern and western neighborhoods in the city, borders other municipalities where such measures have not been discussed.
To the two City Council members that voted against such a logical public policy change, shame on you. To the other seven that voted for more sensible marijuana laws in Pittsburgh, I tip my hat to you. I have always been a fan of local activism, and I hope that this vote increases the momentum for marijuana decriminalization at the state level in Pennsylvania. It won’t be long until statistics are released which show the savings in law enforcement resources due to today’s vote in Pittsburgh, and I’m hopeful that raises some eye brows at the Pennsylvania Legislature.