Pennsylvania needs to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana possession, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said Monday, yet he remains guarded about the kind of recreational legalization that is in place in several western states.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill into law Friday that removes criminal penalties for possession of a personal amount of marijuana and replaces them with a civil fine. The new law is effective immediately.
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On May 18, the Illinois House voted to move Illinois to ticket-based penalties for possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana. If the governor signs Senate Bill 2228, instead of making arrests, police will start issuing tickets ranging from $100 to $200 per offense. Previously, anyone caught with 10 grams or less of marijuana could have been charged with a misdemeanor, resulting in a fine of up to $1,500 and possible jail time of up to six months. Under SB 2228, anyone charged with the civil marijuana possession penalty would also automatically have his or her record expunged six months after the bill’s effective date.
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By a vote of 7-2, Pittsburgh City Council passed a measure to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana this morning.
The bill allows city police to fine up to $100 for possessing less than 30 grams of marijuana, or 8 grams of hashish, instead of citing them for a misdemeanor. Its sponsor, Public Safety Committee chair Daniel Lavelle, previously said the measure was intended to “help break the damning life-long consequences of unemployment, lack of education, and being caught in a revolving criminal justice system.”
West Palm Beach commissioners will consider changing the penalty for marijuana possession Monday evening.
Currently, anyone caught with 20 grams or less can be charged with a misdemeanor. The proposed ordinance that’s up for discussion would change the punishment to a civil penalty.
To say that marijuana has a plethora of hurdles to overcome might be an understatement. Just because the American public’s opinion of marijuana has made an about-face from where it stood 10 years ago doesn’t mean marijuana’s path toward a potential federal approval or decriminalization has been made any easier.
Delaware on Friday officially decriminalized the private use of marijuana, becoming the nation’s 18th state to do so. Under the new laws, which go into effect in six months, people in Delaware can possess up to an ounce at a time.
The bill passed the House by a 24-14 vote, and now heads to the Senate. Gov. Jack Markell supports decriminalization. No House Republicans voted in favor of the legislation on Tuesday. The legislation would only impose $100 civil fines on adults found with up to an ounce of marijuana, or those found using the drug privately. Police could still confiscate the drug when imposing a civil penalty.