Pittsburgh decriminalizes pot possession
Pittsburgh City Council is ending its 2015 legislative session on a high note, having voted Monday morning to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana within city limits.
Council voted 7-2 in favor of a bill, sponsored by Councilman Daniel Lavelle, that allows police to levy a fine of up to $100 against anyone possessing up to 30 grams of marijuana or 8 grams of hashish. In the case of minors, parents or guardians will be notified of the offense and must pay the fine.
Supporters say that’s better than charging suspects with a misdemeanor criminal offense, which can saddle defendants with a potentially job-killing rap sheet and burden police with paperwork.
Mayor Bill Peduto has pledged to sign the bill: A spokesman called it “a common-sense change that will help protect the futures of young people.”
Patrick Nightingale, a marijuana reform activist, hailed the measure, which is similar to a Philadelphia ordinance passed in 2014. The legislation “will protect Pittsburghers of all colors and all ages from unwarranted and unnecessary police interactions, and it will help police more efficiently utilize limited resources,” he said.
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