“Pennsylvania House representative Ed Gainey (D-Allegheny) has issued a co-sponsorship memorandum seeking co-sponsors for his landmark “decriminalization” bill. Rep. Gainey’s bill would mirror the fine structure in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh’s decriminalization ordinances and would completely eliminate any potential incarceration. The legislation would reduce the grading of “Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana” from a misdemeanor to a summary offense, eliminating the need for fingerprinting and wasteful Court proceedings. As Pennsylvanians await the anticipated two year roll out of the medical marijuana program decriminalization is critical to protect patients.
Please contact your Pennsylvania State Representative right away and urge him or her to join Rep. Gainey and and criminal penalties for minor cannabis possession.”
|Posted:||April 28, 2016 10:39 AM|
|From:||Representative Ed Gainey|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||SAM (Small Amounts of Marijuana) Legislation|
|In the near future I will introduce legislation that will amend Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substances Act amending the grading of possession of a “small amount” of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a summary offense. This legislation, I believe, reflects the will of Pennsylvanians who are considering decriminalization on the local level. Philadelphia passed a decriminalization ordinance in 2014 and Pittsburgh recently followed suit. Decriminalization is being considered in Harrisburg and Lancaster and elsewhere. Overwhelming evidence supports the notion that non-violent drug and alcohol abuse is a public health issue that requires treatment, and not imprisonment; it is not a criminal issue.
Despite both local and nationwide progress on the issue of cannabis prohibition Pennsylvania continues to charge over 18,000 individuals each year with minor possessory offenses. Minorities are disproportionately affect by as much as a 5 – 1 ratio despite similar usage rates as their white counterparts. A misdemeanor conviction can have lifelong implications including loss of employment, loss of public housing and loss of educational loan eligibility. We cannot afford either the short term or the long term effects of saddling Pennsylvanians with misdemeanor charges and convictions for minor cannabis possession.
My bill will protect Pennsylvanians from the lifelong collateral consequences of a narcotics conviction by imposing a fine and a summary conviction for an individual possessing thirty (30) grams or less of marijuana or eight (8) grams or less of hashish. As the nation continues to have an evolving conversation on cannabis reform it is inappropriate, if not unconscionable, to continue to subject 18,000 Pennsylvanians to criminal prosecution for minor cannabis possession, and saving the cities and municipalities of Pennsylvania more than $33 million per year in Public Safety and Court expenses.
Please consider co-sponsoring this legislation.