Philadelphia To Become Largest City To Decriminalize Marijuana, But Its Not Completely Legal Yet

Smoking a little weed or carrying it with you won't be considered a serious crime in Philadelphia, according to the city's current mayor.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter confirmed Monday that he would sign the bill into law that will make his city the largest in America to decriminalize marijuana possession. However, in a rudimentary sense, the revision only softens the penalty of possessing marijuana, and does not legalize it.

What is Nutter offering? Mayor Nutter was never a fan of the bill. However, he claims he felt for the people who were being slapped with a hefty fine for possessing a small or rather insignificant amount of marijuana, which was clearly meant for self-consumption. Hence, he agreed to sign the bill, albeit with a caveat.

Speaking to CBS News about the bill coming into effect, Nutter said,

"So I think the agreement ends up putting the city and our citizens in a much better place,"
However, he was quick to specify that signing the bill won't be the same as condoning marijuana use. The bill, which was earlier expected to become law within this week, is now said to be delayed by two more weeks owing to the revision, and it essentially softens the penalty for such an offense from possible jail time to a $25 fine.

In simpler words, in case you are caught with a small amount of weed on you or caught smoking pot, you won't be prosecuted. But if you are caught consuming marijuana in a public place, the fine would escalate to $100. Still, this fine can be waived off with a few hours of public service, reported Huffington Post.

Despite being wary of the new bill, Mayor Nutter agreed to sign it owing to a lengthy discussion with City Councilman Jim Kenney, who originally introduced the bill in May this year. Kenney's bill will be amended Thursday by the council and get a final vote two weeks later before it shows up on Nutter's desk again.

Nonetheless, Kenney says the amendment is still a whole lot better than Philadelphia's current law, which punishes any marijuana possession with at least a $200 fine, a drug abuse course and an arrest record.

Philadelphia Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

What does the amendment state? Fundamentally, possession of marijuana is out of the criminal realm, said Kenny,

"We've gotten to a place where it is out of the criminal realm. There's no more handcuffs, no more bookings, no more criminal record... We have so many people that we are putting in the prison pipeline, and the poverty pipeline, because a criminal record is a debilitating thing."
Apparently, the revised bill, when it becomes a law, is expected to save the public exchequer about $4 million each year, which was previously spent on the legal proceedings.

[Image Credit | The Knowledge]