Kenney weed bill passes favorably out of committee

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A student smokes a marijuana cigarette during a 'smoke out' with thousands of others April 20, 2010 at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado. (Chris Hondros / Getty Images)

City Council’s committee on law and government favorably passed a bill that would end mandatory custodial arrests for the crime of possessing a small amount of marijuana.

The subject has garnered interest from a large amount of young people who say Philadelphia wastes countless hours arresting and processing small-time offenders when they have bigger fish to fry.

Aaron Fleming, a Temple University student, testified that he was held up for more than 14 hours for a first-time offense of marijuana possession while stopped by police on campus.

Fleming said his arresting officer had to call for four additional police officers for backup. But when the backup arrived, they debated with the officer for more than an hour as to what to do with Fleming – arrest and charge him or tell him to dump the weed and go home.

Sponsored by Councilman Jim Kenney, the ordinance now goes before the full City Council Thursday for first reading.