Legislation Would Make Marijuana Possession Ticketable Offense - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Legislation Would Make Marijuana Possession Ticketable Offense

Posted: Updated:
PHILADELPHIA -

Big changes may be on the way in the city of Philadelphia's war on drugs.

Legislation will be introduced in City Council on Thursday to make possession of small amounts of marijuana a ticketable offense. No more hand-cuffs and jail cell.

The idea is to free up tight resources and accept the reality of how these cases are prosecuted.

Four years ago, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams changed the way minor drug possession arrests were handled.

Instead of prosecuting in court, maybe asking for jail time, and saddling the offender with a criminal record, the new plan called for offenders to pay a 200-dollar fine and attend a drug education class.

Prosecutors saved time and resources and minor offenders caught a break: no jail time and no criminal record. This may be called the logical next step.

Philadelphia police made more than 4,200 arrests for simple possession of marijuana in 2012.

This is happening in a city where police resources are stretched thin and where those minor possession cases no longer result in jail time.

On Thursday, City Councilman Jim Kenney will introduce a bill that would cease custodial arrest. That's council-speak for no more jail time for small-time pot possession.

"To take an officer off the street for two hours or more, to fingerprint, photograph and book someone whose not going to be prosecuted anyway, seems to me a waste of time. It is a waste of time," Kenney said.

Instead, the offender would be ticketed, fined and sent to the district attorney's drug education classes.

It won't shock you to learn the measure has the full support of those who'd like to see pot legalized.

"Smoking marijuana or possessing a small amount of marijuana shouldn't be enough to get you put into handcuffs and taken to a police station any longer," Chris Goldstein of PhillyNORML said.

But the Kenney plan has also drawn interest from law enforcement types, who wonder whether police and prosecutors and jail cells are really necessary to handle the otherwise law-abiding kid with a joint in his pocket.

"I am not a proponent of legalization. l think I need to make that very clear. But certainly, if there are alternative ways of handling minor cases, then we need to take a look at it," Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said.

"This will allow us to treat non-violent misdemeanants in a smarter way. This is part of being smart on crime," D.A. Williams said.

Passage of this bill is far from certain no lawmaker wants to look soft on crime.

But Kenney says it's also a matter of public safety: if one of these pot possession arrests goes wrong, the offender, the police officer, even an innocent bystander, could get hurt or even killed. All over a case that wasn't going to result in jail time, anyway.

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Only On Fox: Arsonist On The Loose In South Jersey Town

    Only On Fox: Arsonist On The Loose In South Jersey Town

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 4:45 PM EDT2014-04-16 20:45:07 GMT
    It started with a brush fire, then another fire at the rear of this home on Monroe Street and finally a blaze that swept through this vacant home up the block, just a few feet away from where Emma Sethman
    It started with a brush fire, then another fire at the rear of this home on Monroe Street and finally a blaze that swept through this vacant home up the block, just a few feet away from where Emma Sethman
  • Beautiful Easter Sunday

    Saturday, April 19 2014 8:09 PM EDT2014-04-20 00:09:12 GMT

    NICE EASTER WEEKEND

    The first half of the holiday weekend has been great and Easter Sunday looks just as nice. Clouds thin out late tonight with temperatures falling back to the 40s.

    Initially it'll be jacket weather early Sunday morning but plenty of sunshine will warm us into the 60s by afternoon.  High temperatures will be a few degrees cooler than Saturday.

    It will be noticeably cooler and breezy at the shore with highs in the low 50s.  Quiet conditions continue into Monday.

  • Overturned Boat Victim Identified, Search Continues

    Overturned Boat Victim Identified, Search Continues

    Overturned Boat Victim Identified, Search Continues

    Saturday, April 19 2014 7:38 PM EDT2014-04-19 23:38:03 GMT
    The Coast Guard have suspended an emergency search for a man who went overboard in a boat after he went missing. New Jersey State Police have identified him as 49-year old John J. Poltonowicz.
    The Coast Guard have suspended an emergency search for a man who went overboard in a boat after he went missing. New Jersey State Police have identified him as 49-year old John J. Poltonowicz.
Powered by WorldNow

WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
5151 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20016
Main Number: (202) 244-5151
Newsroom: (202) 895-3000
fox5tips@wttg.com

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices