Today Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter made history by signing a decriminalization bill into law that, starting October 20th would make possessing 30 or less grams a fine of $25 and a $100 fine or community service for smoking in public within city limits. This makes Philadelphia the largest American city to decriminalize cannabis.
This was the outcome of much negotiation between the mayor and the bill’s sponsor city Councilman James Kenney who claims the savings to the city will be about $4 million a year in police department and court costs. All this while Philly’s top cop Chief Charles Ramsey vowed to ignore any such law if passed by the city.
At the bill signing today, the mayor reiterated that this change does not make marijuana legal in Philadelphia. “
Kenney added “It will keep people’s records clean so that they can get a job. All of us make mistakes in our lives and we just don’t want their mistakes to ruin the rest of their lives.”
Also the mayor announced that a public service campaign will be launched to emphasize that possession is still illegal through education in city schools and also offer legal help to low income prior offenders in having their criminal records expunged of related charges.
This comes on the heels of the Pennsylvania State Senate passing a “gutted” medical cannabis bill SB1182 that removed many qualifying conditions including HIV from the bill as well as smoking and vaporization as methods of administration. The changes to the bill have been harshly criticized by many experts, advocates and patients most of which do not believe the bill will be passed by the PA State House before the end of the current legislative session.