Philadelphia Gets A Little Sunnier
On Monday, October 20th, 2014, Philadelphia officially issues the first citation of its new decriminalized possession policy. Naturally, the recipient was wearing a NORML hoodie and is a proud member of PhillyNORML and US Marine Corps combat veteran. Mike Whiter could not be happier to see his fully filled out citation, and stopped long enough for a photo with the officer.
Now mike opted for the $100 fine, by smoking a joint in the middle of City Hall the moment the law went live. Just hours and days before that moment, he would have been arrested and processed and public cannabis smoking would have cost him a lot more than $100. Possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana culls a fine of just $25.
Lack of Racial Parity in Convictions
Much of the law has to do with the racial disparity of rights in the area. It is one of the hardest hit cities by the prohibition, seeing as much as 80% African American heroin and marijuana arrests. The law should free up the legal system of courts and prisons in the area to better process the more serious crimes and drugs that should be focused on.
The city council believes that the punishments do not accurately represent the crime and that conviction for marijuana possession and usage have too strong an effect on future education and employment prospects. They have begun a new experiment in marijuana policy and hopefully we will see a renaissance in the city since they will be saving millions of dollars per year.
Signs a Federal System is Waking from its Slumber
The announcement is coming at a pivotal time in the marijuana world, as Eric Holder recently announced that he had been considering rescheduling marijuana from a class 1 drug at risk of high abuse. For this reason many seem optimistic that federal policy on marijuana might make its first shift in close to half a century away from the war on drugs.
Barack Obama’s nomination for the next Assistant Attorney General, Vanita Gupta– a native Philadelphia resident– has promoted decriminalization for years and has a track record of fighting against policies that affect citizens disproportionately by race with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Live in or around Philly and want to celebrate this monumental change in human rights in the city? Head over to The Legendary Dobbs on South Street this Friday October 24th, 2014. PhillyNORML will be hosting the event with live music by Bong Hits for Jesus and Little War Twins with activists speaking in an attempt to raise money for further decriminalization movements in Pennsylvania.