Drug Law

Philadelphia’s New Marijuana Policy Takes Effect

| by Marijuana Policy Project

By Mike Meno

The City of Brotherly Love just got a little kinder.

Beginning today, anyone in Philadelphia who is found possessing up to one ounce of marijuana could have his or her charge downgraded from a misdemeanor to a summary offense.

Under the new policy, which was announced in April by new district attorney Seth Williams, offenders will still be processed by law enforcement, but most can have their records expunged after they take a class and pay a $200 fine. Officials hope the change will help clear the city’s clogged court system.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

“You’re still arrested, you’re still brought in, you’re still fingerprinted, you’re still given a prelim,” said Tasha Jamerson, spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office.

Only at the preliminary arraignment are procedures changing, as many cases will be “diverted” from misdemeanor charges, said McCann.

That won’t be automatic either.

Some reasons for withholding leniency for pot possession include attempting to sell, being caught during a serious crime, and having a criminal record.”

While the new policy is a far cry from removing all penalties for marijuana possession, it is certainly a step in the right direction.