Members of the Bethlehem city council have moved toward the enactment of a local ordinance that seeks to make first-time minor marijuana possession offenses punishable by a $25 fine. Members decided unanimously in favor of the proposal on its first reading. A final vote is anticipated in about two weeks.
However, it remains unclear if the city’s mayor will sign it into law, or if police will follow the new ordinance. Both the mayor and the Bethlehem police chief have publicly expressed concerns that the ordinance conflicts with state penalties, which define cannabis possession as a criminal act.
The police chief for Allentown, Pennsylvania recently cited similar concerns upon failing to enforce that city’s new decriminalization ordinance.
By contrast, several other cities in the state – including Philadelphia and Harrisburg – impose and enforce municipal decriminalization ordinances.