No one should ever be arrested for possessing a personal amount of marijuana. Yet, sadly, it happens all the time across America. It’s a tremendous waste of tax payer dollars, diverts law enforcement resources away from fighting real crime, and ruins peoples’ lives. More and more cities across America, and even some states, are decriminalizing marijuana possession. It’s not as good as full legalization, but it’s definitely better than treating all marijuana possession as a crime.
Pennsylvania has had a lot of talk lately about decriminalizing marijuana statewide. Philadelphia and Harrisburg have already approved marijuana decriminalization measures. Philadelphia saved roughly a million dollars in the first three months after making the decision to decriminalize marijuana possession. It’s estimated that arresting someone for marijuana possession in Pennsylvania costs $1,266 dollars. Multiply that by the 18,000 marijuana possession arrests that occur in Pennsylvania annually, and it’s easy to see that money is being wasted in the name of marijuana prohibition on a massive scale in Pennsylvania.
Following the clear success of marijuana decriminalization at the local level in Pennsylvania, a statewide effort is underway. Polling is favorable for such a move. A poll from April/May 2016 found that 57% of likely Pennsylvania voters would support the legal possession of small amounts of marijuana. That’s not to be confused with a tax and regulated system. An even more detailed poll, one that asked specifically about decriminalization, found 63% support for such a public policy change.
Full recreational legalization may be a bit down the road in Pennsylvania, but decriminalization at the state level should become a reality very soon I’d think. Currently, Pennsylvania treats possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana as a crime. It is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of $500.