Philadelphia District Attorney to Stop Prosecuting Marijuana Possession Offenders

Philadelphia City Hall, as seen looking north from Broad Street between Walnut and Locust Streets. (Dave Z/Flickr)

PHILADELPHIA, PA — City officials in Philadelphia have announced that they will no longer prosecute marijuana possession offenses.

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In October 2014, Philadelphia enacted a municipal ordinance reclassifying cases involving the possession of up to 30 grams of cannabis to a non-summary civil offense, punishable by a $25 fine – no arrest and no criminal record. Since that time, annual arrests for marijuana possession violations have fallen by an estimated 85 percent.

However, despite this decrease, police have continued to make several hundreds of marijuana possession arrests yearly. These arrest primarily target young people of color.

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Newly elected District Attorney Larry Krasner declared Friday that the city will no longer prosecute those additional cases.

“What we’re talking about is the 10 percent or so that are being charged as they used to be, as misdemeanors in court,” Krasner said. “We are going to … drop any cases that are simply marijuana possession.”

Krasner said that refusing to pursue these cases is “the right thing to do.”

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Last week, Seattle city officials announced their intentions to vacate the criminal convictions of minor marijuana possession offenders. The week prior, city officials in San Francisco announced plans to automatically expunge thousands of past marijuana possession convictions.

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