Last week on Wednesday the Pittsburgh City Council voted 6-1 to move forward with a marijuana decriminalization measure. Over a year ago the City of Philadelphia decriminalized marijuana, and has since saved over one million dollars. It is estimated that every marijuana arrest for simple possession costs $1,266 in law enforcement resources in Pennsylvania, and that giving someone a ticket only costs $20. A move to decriminalize in Pittsburgh would provide similar savings compared to Philadelphia.
Only one City Council member voted against the proposal. Per Trib Live:
Councilwoman Darlene Harris of Spring Hill, who voted "no" cited that as the reason.
"I cannot support a law that directly contradicts the law of the commonwealth," she said. "This council is taking on things that are not local law."
The bill passed 6-1 with Theresa Kail-Smith of Westwood abstaining. Council is scheduled for a final vote Monday.
I'm not as familiar with Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania state law, but I have to assume that there are things that the city does differently than the state does outside of marijuana policy. That's true of virtually every large city in America. It's not that the city wants to 'stick it to the state,' it's that cities often know better ways of going about things than the state because the city deals with local issues more frequently. Marijuana decriminalization was good for Philadelphia, and so too will it be good for Pittsburgh if/when the measure is passed today.