PENNSYLVANIA: A bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana within the City of Pittsburgh is set to be introduced Tuesday in City Council. The legislation, based on a law enacted in Philadelphia last October, would amend the Pittsburgh City Code to make possession of a small amount of marijuana (under 30 grams), or smoking a small amount of marijuana in a public space, a civil violation subject to a fine of $100.
The bill is being introduced by Councilman Daniel Lavelle, of District 6, which encompasses Downtown, Uptown, the Northside, Oakland, The Hill District and Perry Hilltop.
“This bill helps to decrease the many lives destroyed by the unnecessarily harsh consequences that come with the most minor marijuana offenses,” said Councilman Lavelle in a press release. “The bill will help break the damning lifelong consequences of unemployment, lack of education and being caught in a revolving criminal justice system, all due to a minor marijuana offense.”
Under current city law, possession of a small amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor. But according to Patrick Nightingale, Executive Director of Pittsburgh NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), that charge is almost always downgraded to a summary charge of Disorderly Conduct.
“Almost every person who is charged with a misdemeanor possession of a small amount of marijuana and/or misdemeanor of marijuana paraphernalia only is having their case reduced from a misdemeanor to a summary offense at city court,” says Nightingale.