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City council to likely decriminalize marijuana

Four Pittsburgh City Council members lined up in support a bill that would reduce the penalty for possessing less than an ounce of marijuana. The new charged would be the equivalent of a $25 traffic ticket. Five of nine council votes are needed to pass the bill. The council president and four others agree that they will approve legislation. Said one council member, "Anybody who has that on their record, they can’t get hired. A kid who makes a mistake in high school shouldn’t be punished for the rest of [his or her] life." A spokesperson for Pittsburgh’s mayor says that the mayor "agrees in principle that these small crimes should not have an outsized impact on the future lives and careers of our residents…" The legislation is similar to a 2014 ordinance in Philadelphia that permits cops to cite people and issue a $25 fine for possessing less than thirty grams of marijuana or eight grams of hashish. A person caught smoking the drugs in public would be subject to a $100 fine. Police would also have discretion to cite someone under the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, which lists marijuana possession as a misdemeanor. One council member says, "We are not legalizing it. We are changing the penalty. Those who are addicted need rehabilitation and services, but not incarceration." He said marijuana laws tend to penalize young, urban black males more than parts of the population. He called the legislation an effort to "reform what has been a failed policy of this country and this city for years." If you have been arrested for possessing or using marijuana, this new potential bill could change the course of your life for the better. Call Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney Gary Gerson today to discuss your case at 412-219-6875.

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