Philadelphia: Decriminalization Measure Awaits Mayor’s Signature

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The Philadelphia City Council passed bill 140377 with a vote of 13-3 in June 2014. The measure, sponsored by Councilman James Kenney, offers a pragmatic solution to unburdening the city government and our residents from arrests for small amounts of marijuana.


There are more than 4,000 adults arrested each year in our city simply for having a small amount of cannabis.


Philadelphia stands alone in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by requiring a custodial arrest for each offender while other counties issue summons or even summary violations for disorderly persons.


The new policy approved overwhelmingly by City Council is by no means an innovation. Washington DC is currently implementing a similar measure with a matching fine. Dozens of states and municipalities have either decriminalized possession or made marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority.


Bill 140377 will save the time of more than 17,000 police officer hours related to the current practice of custodial arrests and save at least $4million per year in the Public Safety Budget.