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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: April 28, 2016 10:39 AM
From: Representative Ed Gainey
To: All House members
Subject: SAM (Small Amounts of Marijuana) Legislation
In the near future I will introduce legislation that will amend Pennsylvania's Controlled Substances Act amending the grading of possession of a "small amount" of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a summary offense. This legislation, I believe, reflects the will of Pennsylvanians who are considering decriminalization on the local level. Philadelphia passed a decriminalization ordinance in 2014 and Pittsburgh recently followed suit. Decriminalization is being considered in Harrisburg and Lancaster and elsewhere. Overwhelming evidence supports the notion that non-violent drug and alcohol abuse is a public health issue that requires treatment, and not imprisonment; it is not a criminal issue.

Despite both local and nationwide progress on the issue of cannabis prohibition Pennsylvania continues to charge over 18,000 individuals each year with minor possessory offenses. Minorities are disproportionately affect by as much as a 5 - 1 ratio despite similar usage rates as their white counterparts. A misdemeanor conviction can have lifelong implications including loss of employment, loss of public housing and loss of educational loan eligibility. We cannot afford either the short term or the long term effects of saddling Pennsylvanians with misdemeanor charges and convictions for minor cannabis possession.

My bill will protect Pennsylvanians from the lifelong collateral consequences of a narcotics conviction by imposing a fine and a summary conviction for an individual possessing thirty (30) grams or less of marijuana or eight (8) grams or less of hashish. As the nation continues to have an evolving conversation on cannabis reform it is inappropriate, if not unconscionable, to continue to subject 18,000 Pennsylvanians to criminal prosecution for minor cannabis possession, and saving the cities and municipalities of Pennsylvania more than $33 million per year in Public Safety and Court expenses.

Please consider co-sponsoring this legislation.

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Introduced as HB2076