Pennsylvania lawmakers to mull marijuana decriminalization


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Sen. Mike Stack, a Democrat from Philly, isn’t a big marijuana supporter, but he’s sick of seeing an “expensive, ineffective and misguided” marijuana policy ruin the lives of people in his state. As such, he’s introduced legislation that would make marijuana possession of 30 grams or less a ticketable offense on-par with “crimes” like jaywalking as well as another bill that would allow people to have past pot crimes taken off their record.
Currently, 30 grams or less is a misdemeanor charge with a $500 fine and up to 30 days in jail. More than 30 grams is a misdemeanor with up to a year in jail and $5,000.
“These bills are not intended to be a commentary on the wisdom or health of marijuana use,” Stack said release this week. “These bills are a challenge to those who walk these halls and profess their support for smaller government at a lower cost to taxpayers.”
Senate Bill 1307 would make the first and second offense or the possession of 30 grams of ganja or less would be a fine no more than $500. Third and subsequent offenses could revert back to the existing misdemeanor charges, though the bill leaves room for judges to levy lighter sentences. Judges could also order people into “Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition” (rehab). The bill does not address paraphernalia possession or hash possession – possession of both would remain a misdemeanor.
Senate Bill 1308 would allow people busted on misdemeanor pot charges in the past to expunge their record so long as five years has passed.
Stack, who is also running for lieutenant governor, may face an uphill battle with his would-be boss, Gov. Tom Corbett. The guv, who is also running for office, has repeatedly said he wouldn’t be dropping his guard when it comes to the state’s pot laws – even when it comes to medical cannabis. He’s one of those old-school drug war sheep who still calls marijuana a “gateway drug”.
Both bills have been referred to the state judiciary committee for discussion.