Tag: Decriminalization

Delaware Marijuana Decriminalization Law Takes Effect

Delaware Marijuana Decriminalization Law Takes Effect

DOVER, DE — Legislation signed into law last June decriminalizing marijuana possession offenses took effect at midnight Friday.

House Bill 39 reclassifies the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis by those age 21 and over from a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a criminal record, to a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine only — no arrest, and no criminal record.

Those between the ages of 18 and 21 may still face criminal charges, but only if it is their second or subsequent offense.

The new law also amends the personal possession of marijuana paraphernalia from a criminal to a civil violation. Public use of the substance, as well as marijuana possession while inside a vehicle, remain classified as misdemeanors.

Prior to the law change, Delaware ranked #17 in the nation in per capita marijuana possession arrests.

Delaware’s decriminalization law mimics similar laws in effect in California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont — each of which treat minor marijuana possessions as a civil violation.

Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio classify marijuana possession as a misdemeanor punishable by a fine only.

Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, DC previously enacted marijuana decriminalization policies, but have since amended their laws to legalize the plant’s possession and use.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Delaware Marijuana Decriminalization Law to Take Effect Friday

Delaware Marijuana Decriminalization Law to Take Effect Friday

Adult possession of a small amount of marijuana will become a civil violation punishable by a fine; Delaware will be the 19th state in the nation to remove the threat of jail for simple possession

DOVER, DE — Marijuana decriminalization legislation adopted earlier this year in Delaware will officially take effect on Friday, making it the 19th state in the nation to remove the threat of jail for simple marijuana possession. A 20th state, Missouri, has a similar law on the books that goes into effect in 2017.

“Delaware’s marijuana policy is about to become a lot more reasonable,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Most people agree adults should not face jail time or the life-altering consequences of a criminal record just for possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol. Taxpayers certainly don’t want to foot the bill for it, and fortunately they will not have to any longer.”

Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of a $575 fine and three months in jail.

Once House Bill 39 takes effect, the possession or private use of one ounce or less of marijuana will no longer trigger criminal penalties or create a criminal record for adults 21 years of age and older. Instead, it will be a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine.

Adults between the ages of 18 and 20 will face the same $100 civil fine for their first offense, then an unclassified misdemeanor for subsequent offenses, which they can have expunged from their records when they reach age 21.

Marijuana possession by minors and public consumption by people of any age will remain misdemeanors.

“State governments are realizing it makes no sense to criminalize substantial portions of their populations for marijuana possession,” O’Keefe said. “It diverts law enforcement resources from serious crimes and takes a toll on the lives of their citizens. Delaware is moving in the right direction, but there’s still plenty of room for progress. Most voters think the state should treat marijuana similarly to alcohol, and we hope their lawmakers will explore that option.”

HB 39 was introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South) in the House and sponsored by Sen. Margaret Rose Henry (D-Wilmington East) in the Senate. It received final approval in the legislature on June 18 and was signed by Gov. Jack Markell later that day.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Pittsburgh Poised to Decriminalize Small Amounts of Marijuana

Pittsburgh Poised to Decriminalize Small Amounts of Marijuana

PITTSBURGH, PA — The city of Pittsburgh is poised to become the second major city in Pennsylvania to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Following a hearing on Tuesday, where about 40 people testified in favor of the proposal and no opposition was voiced, the Pittsburgh City Council is expected to give preliminary approval Wednesday to an ordinance that will allow police in the city the option to cite individuals found in possession of a small amount of marijuana, instead of arresting them and charging them with a criminal offense.

The proposed ordinance was introduced by District 6 Councilman and Public Safety Chair Daniel Lavelle in November. It would  create a civil fine of $25 for possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana or 8 grams of hashish.  The fine would increase to $100 if an individual is openly possessing marijuana, including smoking in public.

The city council will vote Wednesday on the proposal.  If approved Wednesday, as expected, the council would need to formally approve the ordinance in a second vote.  At least five of the nine members of the city council support the bill, according to NPR:

Lavelle along with Councilmen Daniel Gilman, Corey O’Connor and Bruce Kraus and Councilwomen Deb Gross and Natalia Rudiak say they will support the bill. Lavelle said Councilman Ricky Burgess will also support, while Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith said she is still on the fence but is leaning toward a yes vote. Lavelle said Councilwoman Darlene Harris has indicated she will not support the measure.

If the ordinance passes, Mayor Bill Peduto says he’ll sign it, according to the Associated Press.

While police could charge offenders under harsher state laws, Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is expected to instruct officers to cite offenders under the city ordinance, KDKA-TV reports:

Chief McLay was involved in the creation of this legislation and is fully supportive of this legislation and has told us it’s going to be a training issue for his officers and is committed to that training.

Pittsburgh is expected to save approximately $1 million annually in enforcement costs from decriminalizing marijuana, according to an analysis conducted by Carnegie Mellon University.

Under Pennsylvania state law, possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

According to Pittsburgh NORML, about 1,000 people are charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession in Pittsburgh each year. Almost all have the criminal charge reduced to a non-traffic summary citation at the first stage of criminal proceedings, says the organization.  Pittsburgh NORML’s executive director is a criminal defense attorney in the city.

Despite similar usage rates between races, blacks are much more likely to be arrested for minor marijuana possession offenses — at a rate of five to one compared to whites.

Last year, Philadelphia, the state’s largest city, passed a similar ordinance decriminalizing marijuana possession, which has resulted in an 80% reduction in custodial arrests for small amounts of marijuana.

Pittsburgh is the second largest city in the state of Pennsylvania, behind only Philadelphia.  Combined, the two cities represent over ten percent of the state’s population.  Advocates hope state lawmakers in Harrisburg will take action to pass a similar measure statewide, but with conservative Republicans controlling both the House and Senate, such legislation is doubtful.

Nationally, Pittsburgh joins a growing trend of local cities enacting similar laws to reduce simple marijuana possession penalties, including Chicago, Detroit and Washington, DC.

The full text of the Pittsburgh proposal can be viewed here.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Michigan Supreme Court Allows Grand Rapids Marijuana Decriminalization Law to Stand

Michigan Supreme Court Allows Grand Rapids Marijuana Decriminalization Law to Stand

LANSING, MI — An amendment to the Grand Rapids city charter that decriminalizes marijuana possession in the city will be allowed to stand after the state’s highest court refused to hear an appeal from Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth.

The amendment, approved by voters in 2012, makes the possession of marijuana a civil infraction punishable by fines ranging from $25 to $100 with no jail time.  The amendment, which was approved by nearly 60% of voters, also makes  marijuana cases a low police priority, and forbids city law enforcement officials from referring marijuana cases to the Kent County prosecutor’s office.

Grand Rapids was one of five Michigan cities to pass similar measures in the 2012 elections.

Enactment of the ordinance has been on hold since Forsyth filed a lawsuit to block its implementation.

In 2013, a Kent County judge ruled that the measure is valid under state law.

Forsyth laterappealed the judge’s decision to the  Michigan Court of Appeals, which ruled in January there was no direct contradiction of state law in the amendment.

Forsyth then appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court, who rejected the appeal on Friday because the court was not “persuaded that the question presented should be reviewed.”

The Supreme Court’s decision can be found here.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Pittsburgh City Council to Hold Public Hearing on Marijuana Decriminalization Tomorrow

Pittsburgh City Council to Hold Public Hearing on Marijuana Decriminalization Tomorrow

PITTSBURGH, PA —  The Pittsburgh City Council will host a public hearing on a proposed ordinance to decriminalize marijuana possession in the city on Tuesday.

The hearing, which is open to the public, is scheduled for 1:30 pm on Tuesday, December 15 in the Council Chambers, located on the 5th Floor of the City County Building, 414 Grant Street, Pittsburgh.

The proposed ordinance was introduced by District 6 Councilman and Public Safety Chair Daniel Lavelle in November.  If passed, the proposal will allow police in the city the option to cite individuals found in possession of a small amount of marijuana, instead of arresting them and charging them with a criminal offense.

Local advocates at Pittsburgh NORML, who have been working with Councilman Lavelle to craft the proposal, say the ordinance would create a civil fine of $25 for possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana or 8 grams of hashish.  The fine would increase to $100 if an individual is openly possessing marijuana, including smoking in public.

The proposal is modeled after a measure was successfully enacted last year in Philadelphia, where advocates from Philly NORML worked with then-councilman Jim Kenney — now the mayor-elect — to craft and pass the ordinance.

Instead of placing an offender under arrest, police would confiscate the offender’s marijuana and issue a civil violation, similar to a parking ticket, provided the offender is not engaged in any other criminal conduct.

Under Pennsylvania state law, possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

According to Pittsburgh NORML, about 1,000 people are charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession in Pittsburgh each year. Almost all have the criminal charge reduced to a non-traffic summary citation at the first stage of criminal proceedings, says the organization.  Pittsburgh NORML’s executive director is a criminal defense attorney in the city.

Despite similar usage rates between races, blacks are much more likely to be arrested for minor marijuana possession offenses — at a rate of five to one compared to whites.

Last year, Philadelphia, the state’s largest city, passed a similar ordinance decriminalizing marijuana possession, which has resulted in an 80% reduction in custodial arrests for small amounts of marijuana.

With support from at least six of nine Pittsburgh city council members, the ordinance is expected to pass.

“We are very excited that Pittsburgh will follow in the footsteps of Philadelphia and others across the country and embrace cannabis reform,” says Patrick Nightingale, Executive Director of Pittsburgh NORML.  “Through the leadership of Public Safety Chair Daniel Lavelle and the Bloomfield Garfield Corporation Pittsburgh will no longer prioritize cannabis prosecution. Recreational and medicinal consumers in our great City can at least know that their police are not interested in arresting them and potentially ruining their lives over the possession of a simple, non-toxic plant.”

Pittsburgh is the second largest city in the state of Pennsylvania, behind only Philadelphia.  Combined, the two cities represent over ten percent of the state’s population.  Advocates hope state lawmakers in Harrisburg will take action to pass a similar measure statewide, but with conservative Republicans controlling both the House and Senate, such legislation is doubtful.

Nationally, Pittsburgh joins a growing trend of local cities enacting similar laws to reduce simple marijuana possession penalties, including Chicago, Detroit and Washington, DC.

The full text of the Pittsburgh proposal can be viewed here.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Jeb Bush Suggests Support for Decriminalizing Marijuana

Jeb Bush Suggests Support for Decriminalizing Marijuana

MPP upgrades Bush — who had not previously expressed support for decriminalization — from a ‘D’ to a ‘C-’ Presidential Candidate Report Card score following a Friday interview on a Boston radio station

WASHINGTON, DC — The Marijuana Policy Project upgraded Jeb Bush from a “D” to a “C-” in its 2016 presidential candidate report card on Friday following a radio interview in which the former Florida governor expressed support for decriminalizing marijuana.

According to a report from Marijuana.com:

“It’s one thing to say we should have decriminalization of marijuana. I support that,” the former Florida governor said in an interview with Joe Mathieu of Boston’s WBZ NewsRadio. Bush had not previously endorsed a removal of criminal penalties for cannabis possession.

But Bush also referred to marijuana as a “gateway drug” during the interview, referencing a theory that was thoroughly debunked by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine in a 1999 report commissioned by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

He also said “the new marijuana” is “highly, highly toxic,” despite researchers consistently finding that marijuana is among the least toxic drugs and incapable of producing a fatal overdose.

The Marijuana Policy Project’s voter guide, launched in June, grades the major-party presidential hopefuls based on actions they have taken and statements they have made that indicate their levels of support for ending marijuana prohibition, allowing legal access to medical marijuana, and defending states’ rights to adopt their own marijuana policies without interference from the federal government.

In October, MPP boosted Republican candidate Mike Huckabee from a “D” to a “B-” following an interview in which he expressed a more sympathetic position on medical marijuana and said he would not use federal resources to interfere in states that have adopted laws that legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use.  MPP also upgraded Bernie Sanders from a “B” to an “A” after he became the first-ever major-party presidential candidate to express support for ending marijuana prohibition, and it boosted Hillary Clinton from a “B-“ to a “B” because she strengthened her position in support of allowing access to medical marijuana.

The voter guide can be viewed online here.

“We’re glad to hear Gov. Bush is in favor of removing criminal penalties for at least some marijuana-related offenses,” says Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project.  “We hope he will elaborate on this position and let voters know what he would do on this front if elected. A solid majority of Americans think marijuana should be legal for adults, and an even stronger majority support legal access to medical marijuana. Gov. Bush might be evolving on the issue, but he’s still lagging behind most Americans.

“It’s always astonishing to hear someone running for our nation’s highest office still believes in the reefer madness that was conjured up more than half a century ago. Equating marijuana to heroin is like equating apples to orange soda. The marijuana that is available today is no more toxic than the marijuana Gov. Bush used in college. It was far less toxic than alcohol then, and it’s far less toxic than alcohol now,” Tvert added.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Filed in Illinois, Faith Leaders Voice Support

Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Filed in Illinois, Faith Leaders Voice Support

Illinois faith leaders call for swift action on HB 4357, which includes provisions agreed upon by Gov. Bruce Rauner and the General Assembly

CHICAGO, IL — Rep. Kelly Cassidy announced Thursday that she is introducing new legislation for 2016 that would replace criminal penalties with a civil fine for possession of a personal amount of marijuana in Illinois.

House Bill 4357 would make possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana a civil violation punishable by a fine. Adults would no longer face time in jail, and the civil offense would be automatically expunged in order to prevent a permanent criminal record.

The proposal largely mirrors legislation previously introduced by Rep. Cassidy that was approved in the Senate (37-19) on May 21 and in the House (62-53) on April 23, as well the amendments proposed by Gov. Bruce Rauner when he vetoed the bill and returned it to the legislature on August 14.

“This is a reasonable proposal that is long overdue,” Rep. Cassidy said. “It needs to happen, and I am hopeful that we can make it happen quickly since it’s already such familiar territory for legislators and the governor.”

Members of the Illinois faith community joined Rep. Cassidy at the news conference to voice support for the bill. More than 50 clergy from around the state have signed a Religious Declaration of Clergy for a New Drug Policy, which includes support for civil rather than criminal sanctions for marijuana possession.

“When members of our communities are saddled with criminal records for possession, it hurts future job, housing, and educational prospects. Individuals become ‘marked for life,’” said Rev. Alexander E. Sharp, executive director of Clergy for a New Drug Policy. “We know from experience here and across the country that harsh marijuana penalties don’t deter use — they just hurt our communities when individuals’ lives are harmed from life-altering criminal records.”

Under current Illinois law, possession of up to 2.5 grams of marijuana is a class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500; possession of 2.5-10 grams is a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500; and possession of more than 10 grams up to 30 grams is a class 4 felony punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $1,500 fine. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have removed the threat of jail time for simple marijuana possession.

“It accomplishes little, if anything, to arrest nearly 50,000 individuals for low-level marijuana use in Illinois each year,” said Rev. Myron McCoy, senior minister at the Chicago Temple of the First United Methodist Church. “Our current law wastes public funds and impedes the futures of our young people. We can do better as a society and as a state.”

More than 100 Illinois communities have already removed criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession.

“Our current law is particularly hard on communities of color, and this bill helps bring standards that can apply to all residents of our state,” said Rev. Jason Coulter, pastor of Ravenswood United Church of Christ. “Not only does this bill free up law enforcement to address serious crime, it helps ensure fairness in how the law affects lives regardless of where people live and how they look.”

More information on the bill is available from the Assembly’s website.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Cities See Major Decline In Marijuana Possession Arrests

Cities See Major Decline In Marijuana Possession Arrests

Marijuana possession arrests are significantly declining in New York City and Washington, DC – two jurisdictions that previously led the nation in per capita cannabis arrests.

NEW YORK, NY — Marijuana possession arrests are significantly declining in New York City and Washington, DC – two jurisdictions that previously led the nation in per capita cannabis arrests.

New York City police have made 40 percent fewer arrests for marijuana violations in 2015 compared to this same time last year, according to statistics released from the state’s Division of Criminal Justice. The change follows a pledge made last year by Mayor Bill de Blasio and the police commissioner to reduce citywide marijuana possession arrests, which previously averaged some 30,000 per year.

Marijuana arrests in Washington, DC have also plummeted in 2015. As of November 2, District police have made only seven arrests for marijuana violations – a reduction of more than 99 percent from the previous year.

Last November, over 70 percent of District voters passed I-71, a citywide ballot measure removing criminal and civil penalties regarding the adult possession of up to two ounces of cannabis and/or the cultivation of up to six plants.

Statewide arrests for marijuana-related offenses similarly fell in Colorado and Washington following the passage of retail regulation measures in 2012. In Colorado, the total number of charges filed in Colorado courts for marijuana possession, distribution, and cultivation fell from 38,878 in 2010 to 2,036 in 2014, a reduction of some 95 percent. In Washington, the percentage of marijuana-related convictions fell more than 80 percent between the years 2011 and 2014.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Pittsburgh City Council to Hold Public Hearing on Marijuana Decriminalization Proposal

Pittsburgh City Council to Hold Public Hearing on Marijuana Decriminalization Proposal

PITTSBURGH, PA —  The Pittsburgh City Council will host a public hearing on a proposed ordinance to decriminalize marijuana possession in the city later this month.

The hearing, which is open to the public, is scheduled for 1:30 pm on Tuesday, December 15 in the Council Chambers, located on the 5th Floor of the City County Building, 414 Grant Street, Pittsburgh.

The proposed ordinance was introduced by District 6 Councilman and Public Safety Chair Daniel Lavelle in November.  If passed, the proposal will allow police in the city the option to cite individuals found in possession of a small amount of marijuana, instead of arresting them and charging them with a criminal offense.

Local advocates at Pittsburgh NORML, who have been working with Councilman Lavelle to craft the proposal, say the ordinance would create a civil fine of $25 for possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana or 8 grams of hashish.  The fine would increase to $100 if an individual is openly possessing marijuana, including smoking in public.

The proposal is modeled after a measure was successfully enacted last year in Philadelphia, where advocates from Philly NORML worked with then-councilman Jim Kenney — now the mayor-elect — to craft and pass the ordinance.

Instead of placing an offender under arrest, police would confiscate the offender’s marijuana and issue a civil violation, similar to a parking ticket, provided the offender is not engaged in any other criminal conduct.

Under Pennsylvania state law, possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

According to Pittsburgh NORML, about 1,000 people are charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession in Pittsburgh each year. Almost all have the criminal charge reduced to a non-traffic summary citation at the first stage of criminal proceedings, says the organization.  Pittsburgh NORML’s executive director is a criminal defense attorney in the city.

Despite similar usage rates between races, blacks are much more likely to be arrested for minor marijuana possession offenses — at a rate of five to one compared to whites.

Last year, Philadelphia, the state’s largest city, passed a similar ordinance decriminalizing marijuana possession, which has resulted in an 80% reduction in custodial arrests for small amounts of marijuana.

With support from at least six of nine Pittsburgh city council members, the ordinance is expected to pass.

“We are very excited that Pittsburgh will follow in the footsteps of Philadelphia and others across the country and embrace cannabis reform,” says Patrick Nightingale, Executive Director of Pittsburgh NORML.  “Through the leadership of Public Safety Chair Daniel Lavelle and the Bloomfield Garfield Corporation Pittsburgh will no longer prioritize cannabis prosecution. Recreational and medicinal consumers in our great City can at least know that their police are not interested in arresting them and potentially ruining their lives over the possession of a simple, non-toxic plant.”

Pittsburgh is the second largest city in the state of Pennsylvania, behind only Philadelphia.  Combined, the two cities represent over ten percent of the state’s population.  Advocates hope state lawmakers in Harrisburg will take action to pass a similar measure statewide, but with conservative Republicans controlling both the House and Senate, such legislation is doubtful.

Nationally, Pittsburgh joins a growing trend of local cities enacting similar laws to reduce simple marijuana possession penalties, including Chicago, Detroit and Washington, DC.

The full text of the Pittsburgh proposal can be viewed here.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Pittsburgh City Council to Consider Ordinance Decriminalizing Marijuana Possession

Pittsburgh City Council to Consider Ordinance Decriminalizing Marijuana Possession

PITTSBURGH, PA — On Tuesday, Pittsburgh Councilman and Public Safety Chair Daniel Lavelle is expected to introduce an ordinance that will allow police in the city the option to cite individuals found in possession of a small amount of marijuana, instead of arresting them and charging them with a criminal offense.

Local advocates at Pittsburgh NORML, who have been working with Councilman Lavelle to craft the proposal, say the ordinance would create a civil fine of $25 for possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana or 8 grams of hashish.  The fine would increase to $100 if an individual is openly possessing marijuana, including smoking in public.

The proposal is modeled after a measure was successfully enacted last year in Philadelphia, where advocates from Philly NORML worked with then-councilman Jim Kenney — now the mayor-elect — to craft and pass the ordinance.

Instead of placing an offender under arrest, police would confiscate the offender’s marijuana and issue a civil violation, similar to a parking ticket, provided the offender is not engaged in any other criminal conduct.

 Under Pennsylvania state law, possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

According to Pittsburgh NORML, about 1,000 people are charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession in Pittsburgh each year. Almost all have the criminal charge reduced to a non-traffic summary citation at the first stage of criminal proceedings, says the organization.  Pittsburgh NORML’s executive director is a criminal defense attorney in the city.

Despite similar usage rates between races, blacks are much more likely to be arrested for minor marijuana possession offenses — at a rate of five to one compared to whites.

Last year, Philadelphia became the largest city in the United States to pass a local ordinance decriminalizing marijuana possession, which has resulted in an 80% reduction in custodial arrests for small amounts of marijuana.

With support from at least six of nine Pittsburgh city council members, the ordinance is expected to pass.

“We are very excited that Pittsburgh will follow in the footsteps of Philadelphia and others across the country and embrace cannabis reform,” says Patrick Nightingale, Executive Director of Pittsburgh NORML.  “Through the leadership of Public Safety Chair Daniel Lavelle and the Bloomfield Garfield Corporation Pittsburgh will no longer prioritize cannabis prosecution. Recreational and medicinal consumers in our great City can at least know that their police are not interested in arresting them and potentially ruining their lives over the possession of a simple, non-toxic plant.”

Pittsburgh is the second largest city in the state of Pennsylvania, behind only to Philadelphia.  Combined, the two cities represent over ten percent of the state’s population.  Advocates hope state lawmakers in Harrisburg will take action to pass a similar measure statewide, but with conservative Republicans controlling both the House and Senate, such legislation is doubtful.

Nationally, Pittsburgh joins a growing trend of local cities enacting similar laws to reduce simple marijuana possession penalties, including Chicago, Detroit and Washington, DC.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.