Legislation Would Make Marijuana Possession Ticketable Offense

Legislation Would Make Marijuana Possession Ticketable Offense

Posted: Updated:
PHILADELPHIA -

Big changes may be on the way in the city of Philadelphia's war on drugs.

Legislation will be introduced in City Council on Thursday to make possession of small amounts of marijuana a ticketable offense. No more hand-cuffs and jail cell.

The idea is to free up tight resources and accept the reality of how these cases are prosecuted.

Four years ago, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams changed the way minor drug possession arrests were handled.

Instead of prosecuting in court, maybe asking for jail time, and saddling the offender with a criminal record, the new plan called for offenders to pay a 200-dollar fine and attend a drug education class.

Prosecutors saved time and resources and minor offenders caught a break: no jail time and no criminal record. This may be called the logical next step.

Philadelphia police made more than 4,200 arrests for simple possession of marijuana in 2012.

This is happening in a city where police resources are stretched thin and where those minor possession cases no longer result in jail time.

On Thursday, City Councilman Jim Kenney will introduce a bill that would cease custodial arrest. That's council-speak for no more jail time for small-time pot possession.

"To take an officer off the street for two hours or more, to fingerprint, photograph and book someone whose not going to be prosecuted anyway, seems to me a waste of time. It is a waste of time," Kenney said.

Instead, the offender would be ticketed, fined and sent to the district attorney's drug education classes.

It won't shock you to learn the measure has the full support of those who'd like to see pot legalized.

"Smoking marijuana or possessing a small amount of marijuana shouldn't be enough to get you put into handcuffs and taken to a police station any longer," Chris Goldstein of PhillyNORML said.

But the Kenney plan has also drawn interest from law enforcement types, who wonder whether police and prosecutors and jail cells are really necessary to handle the otherwise law-abiding kid with a joint in his pocket.

"I am not a proponent of legalization. l think I need to make that very clear. But certainly, if there are alternative ways of handling minor cases, then we need to take a look at it," Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said.

"This will allow us to treat non-violent misdemeanants in a smarter way. This is part of being smart on crime," D.A. Williams said.

Passage of this bill is far from certain no lawmaker wants to look soft on crime.

But Kenney says it's also a matter of public safety: if one of these pot possession arrests goes wrong, the offender, the police officer, even an innocent bystander, could get hurt or even killed. All over a case that wasn't going to result in jail time, anyway.

  • Bruce Gordon ReportsMore>>

  • Getting Results: Residents Fed Up With Illegal Dumping

    Getting Results: Residents Fed Up With Illegal Dumping

    Monday, September 15 2014 5:21 PM EDT2014-09-15 21:21:23 GMT
    Two years ago, FOX 29 got the Streets Department to clean up the mess along the 3000 block of West Abbotsford Avenue where trash and overgrown weeds were forcing walkers to detour into busy traffic, well now, the problem has returned.
    Two years ago, FOX 29 got the Streets Department to clean up the mess along the 3000 block of West Abbotsford Avenue where trash and overgrown weeds were forcing walkers to detour into busy traffic, well now, the problem has returned.
  • Baby That Needs Specialized Formula Receives Overwhelming Support

    Baby That Needs Specialized Formula Receives Overwhelming Support

    Thursday, August 14 2014 9:59 PM EDT2014-08-15 01:59:13 GMT
    Insurance policies have rules governing what's covered and what's not. Generally, they make sense. The rules are designed to prevent unreasonable costs from being passed along to the insurer, and by extension to other insurance customers. But listen to Sheree Kober's story. 
    Insurance policies have rules governing what's covered and what's not. Generally, they make sense. The rules are designed to prevent unreasonable costs from being passed along to the insurer, and by extension to other insurance customers. But listen to Sheree Kober's story. 

  • Getting Results: Resident Fed Up With Living Next To Vacant Home

    Getting Results: Resident Fed Up With Living Next To Vacant Home

    Wednesday, June 11 2014 10:24 PM EDT2014-06-12 02:24:23 GMT
    Fox 29 is working to get results for one local woman who fears for her safety.In a region filled with rowhomes, a homeowners’ worst nightmare is the home next door becoming vacant, and slowly disintegrating.Sharon Redwood says she's owned her home on West 6th Street in Chester, Delaware County, for most of her adult life.She says the place next door has been vacant for years.It’s become an eyesore, and a dangerous one at that."The roof has fallen from the third floor, down to the basement. (F...
    Fox 29 is working to get results for one local woman who fears for her safety.In a region filled with rowhomes, a homeowners’ worst nightmare is the home next door becoming vacant, and slowly disintegrating.Sharon Redwood says she's owned her home on West 6th Street in Chester, Delaware County, for most of her adult life.She says the place next door has been vacant for years.It’s become an eyesore, and a dangerous one at that."The roof has fallen from the third floor, down to the basement. (F...
  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Kent State University blasts red-stained sweatshirt sold by Urban Outfitters

    Kent State University blasts red-stained sweatshirt sold by Urban Outfitters

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 1:28 AM EDT2014-09-16 05:28:05 GMT
    A sweatshirt being sold by Urban Outfitters featuring fake blood stains and tattered edges with the logo of Kent State University, where four students were killed in a 1970 incident that shocked America, is “beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life,” university officials said.
    A sweatshirt being sold by Urban Outfitters featuring fake blood stains and tattered edges with the logo of Kent State University, where four students were killed in a 1970 incident that shocked America, is “beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life,” university officials said.
  • Police: 13-Year-Old Shot In Hunting Park

    Police: 13-Year-Old Shot In Hunting Park

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 12:28 AM EDT2014-09-16 04:28:27 GMT
    Police say a 13-year-old was shot in the city's Hunting Park section by Old York Road and Erie Ave on Monday night.
    Police say a 13-year-old was shot in the city's Hunting Park section by Old York Road and Erie Ave on Monday night.
  • Authorities Continue To Investigate State Police Barracks Shooting

    Authorities Continue To Investigate State Police Barracks Shooting

    Monday, September 15 2014 11:24 PM EDT2014-09-16 03:24:00 GMT

    State police say one trooper is dead and another is injured after a shooting at a state police barracks in northeastern Pennsylvania. 

    State police say one trooper is dead and another is injured after a shooting at a state police barracks in northeastern Pennsylvania. 

Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices