PENNSYLVANIA: Most people can come up with a slew of reasons to decriminalize or even legalize marijuana: It has proven medicinal benefits; it consistently accounts for fewer deaths annually than alcohol consumption; and many believe minorities are disproportionately persecuted for its possession.
But another case for decriminalizing marijuana is that it can reduce the strain on city resources by freeing up law-enforcement officials to focus on violent crimes, and also free up court resources by reducing the number of individuals circulating through the criminal justice system.
“From a fiscally responsible government perspective,” says Pittsburgh City Councilor Daniel Lavelle, “when police have to go about dealing with small amounts of marijuana and these charges end up having to go through the court system, it ultimately is a huge burden and fiscal waste of government resources.”
And that’s one of the reasons why last month Lavelle proposed legislation to decriminalize marijuana. Under the ordinance, possession would be punishable by a civil fine of up to $100 for less than 30 grams of marijuana or 8 grams of hashish, which has a higher concentration of THC.