|Posted:||April 12, 2016 02:00 PM|
|From:||Representative Leslie Acosta|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Decriminalizing Possession of Small Amounts of Marijuana|
|In the near future, I will be introducing legislation that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana. Currently, possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana is an ungraded misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days’ imprisonment. My legislation would reduce the grading to a summary offense and would provide the following penalties:
The arrest and court process disrupts the lives of those charged with marijuana possession, forcing some to take time away from school, work or caring for family members to appear before a judge. A misdemeanor conviction also creates barriers to opportunities like safe housing and gainful employment when it shows up on an offender’s background check. My legislation ensures offenders avoid incarceration as well as these other negative effects of conviction. Furthermore, the clinical evaluation for a first offense helps identify an individual with a substance abuse problem, and the treatment program ensures the individual gets the help he or she needs.
In addition, Philadelphia County in 2015 saw a 70 percent decrease in the arrest rate for marijuana possession following passage of its decriminalization ordinance. There were 2,887 total arrests for marijuana possession in 2014 compared to 858 in 2015, the first full year the ordinance was in effect. Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation so we can extend the same opportunity to all Commonwealth residents.
Introduced as HB2042