From the article at

Just over a year ago, the powers that be in Philadelphia effectively decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana by offering offenders the chance to enroll in a three-hour class that would expunge the offense from their records.

Not only did this give Philadelphia police more time and energy to focus on more serious crimes, it has also saved the city a pretty sizable Ziploc bag of green stuff.

“We were spending thousands of dollars for when someone possessed $10 or $15 worth of weed,” District Attorney Seth Williams tells the Philadelphia Daily News. “It just didn’t make any sense.”

Under the program, being caught with up to 30 grams of marijuana is no longer a misdemeanor but a summary offense. By simply paying $200 to attend the three-hour class on the ills of drug use and abuse, the arrestee’s record is wiped clean of the offense.

Before this change, offenders faced up to $500 in fines and possible, though unlikely jail time. If the suspect fought the charges, this meant expenses for the city — prosecutors, judges, lab tests, public defenders, etc. By all but decriminalizing pot, Williams estimates that the city has saved $2 million in the last 12 months.

Additionally, police tell the News that there has been no noticeable impact on the quality of life in Philadelphia since the program went into effect.

Looking at the bigger picture, DA Williams says the current way most U.S. authorities treat drug possession is shortsighted.

“I can put someone in jail for 90 days because they possess crack. But if we don’t get them the help they need for their addiction, when they get out of jail, they’re just going to be a 90-day-older crack addict,” he explains. “We have to treat drug addiction as a public-health problem, not just a criminal-justice problem.”

  1. Rino 6 years ago

    as much as marijuana smokers want to say that decriminalization or even legalization of marijuana isn’t hurting anyone and “it’s just weed,” what everyone seems to overlook is the fact that it’s still a drug and they have no way of controlling the substance. In a much larger picture, who’s to say that down the road coke-fiends or other drug users wont begin to stand up demanding the right to use their substance legally. I just see the whole idea of decriminalizing weed as a large snowball that can only lead to worse issues down the road.

    • Profile photo of sw-admin
      sw-admin 6 years ago

      Addicts aren’t criminals; they’re addicts. How do we control drugs without treating addicts like hardened criminals?

    • Piers 6 years ago

      Coke “fiends” should have the right to use coke legally. You think decriminilization of drugs will cause more addicts? News flash, addiction rates are higher under prohibition than under decriminilization or legalization.

  2. Profile photo of sw-admin
    sw-admin 6 years ago

    Addiction rates are higher in communities with poor quality of life, poverty, and severe income disparities; addiction is not solved by either prohibition or decriminalization.

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