It was a great day for marijuana reform in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania today. The Philadelphia City Council overwhelmingly approved a marijuana decriminalization measure. While it's not marijuana legalization, and it's at the city level (not state), it's still a very significant victory for marijuana reform, and for the citizens of Philadelphia. I always point out to activists that e-mail me that if you can't win at the national level, go for the state level. And if you can't win at the state level, go for the local level. If enough municipalities pass reform, it increases the chances of a statewide victory after people see that reform is a good thing. All of those victories then continue to increase the momentum of legalization at the national level. Below is more information about the Philadelphia City Council approval:
by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director
Today, the full Philadelphia City Council voted 13 to 3 in support of a measure that would lower the penalty for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana to a civil infraction, punishable by a $25 fine.
All 13 of the Democratic members of the City Council voted for it and all three Republicans voted against. The measure now goes to Philadelphia Mayor Nutter's desk for signature. NORML's local chapter, Philly NORML, has been working hard on advancing these reforms for many years and those efforts seem to be finally paying off.
Councilman Bill Greenlee, who voted in support of decriminalization, stated, "It does not seem fair for what most people consider a minor incident to potentially risk people's future."
Councilwoman Cindy Bass, who also voted "Yes" on the bill, said, "To spend the time and the amount of money that is really required to prosecute someone with small amounts of marijuana, while we have so many other bigger issues in the city, does seem a little bit not where we need to be headed."
Bill sponsor Councilman Jim Kenney estimates that the new pot policy could save the police department and the courts about $4 million a year.
NORML will keep you updated if and when the mayor signs this measure.