On Tuesday, Allentown City Council in a 4-3 vote advanced a bill that would decriminalize marijuana.
Under the bill, possession of a small amount of marijuana — 30 grams or less — would be a summary offense rather than a misdemeanor.
All three of the Lehigh Valley’s cities are considering or have recently considered marijuana decriminalization measures. Easton City Council voted down a similar bill in March. Bethlehem City Council is slated to discuss a decriminalization ordinance later this month.
Ordinances to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana don’t make the drug legal, but essentially turn most possession offenses into fines.
Typically, decriminalization also means no arrest, prison time or criminal record for the first-time possession of a small amount of marijuana for personal consumption, according to NORML, an organization working to legalize marijuana in the United States.
People don’t realize how serious misdemeanor possession can be, Josh Fulmer, an attorney and chair of criminal rules for the Northampton County Bar Association, has said.
Consequences could range from a student losing their student loans, to a six month suspension of your driver’s license, fines and jail time.
Six places in Pennsylvania already have similar laws on the book. They are:
In Philadelphia, those possessing 30 grams or less are cited and fined $25. Those smoking in public are cited and fined $100, or made to perform community service.