Pittsburgh City may decriminalize Marijuana

Posted by Sagar Satapathy on November 17, 2015.

If a new legislation, which is set to be introduced today in City Council, is passed, Pittsburgh City will decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana within the city limits. The legislation is based on a law enacted in Philadelphia in October 2014. It seeks to amend the Pittsburgh City Code to impose a fine of up to $100 on possession of a small amount of marijuana (under 30 grams), or smoking a small amount of marijuana in a public space.

The bill is being introduced by Councilman Daniel Lavelle, of District 6, which includes Downtown, Uptown, the Northside, Oakland, The Hill District and Perry Hilltop. Currently, the marijuana possession or smoking (even a small amount), warrants prosecution under criminal law and destroys the life and career of many people. The activists have been working hard to decriminalize marijuana with a minor penalty at least within the city, if not outside.

It is believed that the new bill would help many youths, who use marijuana and end up landing in a revolving criminal justice system. They can heave a sigh of relief, as they won't face the harsh consequences of minor marijuana offenses. "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," said the press release by City Councilman Daniel Lavell.

Similar legislation in Philadelphia drastically cut marijuana possession arrests," said Patrick Nightingale, a local criminal defense lawyer and executive director of the Pittsburgh chapter of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. He argued that it gave police the option of writing a ticket but still retaining the power to file misdemeanor charges if situation warrants so.

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