Philly420: Marijuana arrests fall 78 percent in Philadelphia

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Mike Whiter (left), a U.S. Marine Corps veteran with PTSD, was issued the first ticket in Philadelphia for smoking marijuana in public.

Data provided by the Philadelphia Police Department to Philly420 shows a sharp decline in marijuana arrests since a new decriminalization policy went into effect. But, despite the change, some local residents are still getting handcuffed for weed. 

From Oct. 20 to Nov. 20 just 20 of the new tickets were issued: 14 for possession and 6 for smoking in public. Possession of under 30 grams (about an ounce) results in a $25 ticket. Smoking it in public nets a fine of $100 and community service.

There were still 72 arrests for marijuana in the last month, but that was significantly less than the same time period in 2013. This year in the same period, there were about 320 arrests. Overall that's a decline of 78 percent. 

City Council passed the decriminalization bill sponsored by James Kenney in June. It went into effect on Oct. 20. 

It is heartening to see less of a focus on arresting cannabis consumers. Still, under the spirit of the new ordinance, more people should be getting the citations rather than going into holding cells. 

Chris Goldstein is the co-chair of PhillyNORML and Associate Editor of Freedom Leaf Magazine. 

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