PA: Philadelphia Drops Dozens Of Marijuana Possession Charges

Photo Credit: Jonathan Hayward

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner has dropped dozens of criminal charges of marijuana possession and will no longer pursue charges in similar cases.

“We are going to tell them, yes, drop any cases that are simply marijuana possession,” Krasner said, according to a Philadelphia NBC News affiliate.

He said that the policy only applies to basic possession cases and not charges like possession with intent to sell. Charges were dropped against 51 people last week. He added he thinks police resources could better be used elsewhere.

“I did it because I felt it was the right thing to do,” Krasner said. “We could use those resources to solve homicides.”

Philadelphia police began issuing citations for marijuana possession four years ago, giving them the power to address the crime with a fine instead of an arrest and jail sentence.

Krasner said that 90 percent of instances of possession now result in a citation.

He said that his office will no longer pursue charges against anyone arrested for marijuana possession.

Cities across the U.S. have begun relaxing enforcement of marijuana laws. Seattle announced earlier this month that it would dismiss misdemeanor marijuana charges stemming from before Washington state legalized the substance.

San Francisco also began retroactively applying California’s new legalization law to wipe out thousands of past convictions and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) said he was considering dismissing marijuana convictions for nonviolent offenders.

Recreational marijuana use is legal in nine states and Washington, D.C.