As prosecutors across the nation grapple with discrepancies in state and federal cannabis law, one district attorney in Philadelphia is taking a stand and tackling the real issues affecting his citizens.
Philly DA Larry Krasner, who took office in January, is already taking measures to right past wrongs. On Thursday, Krasner announced he had dropped charges for marijuana possession in the cases of 51 individuals, none of whom were charged with dealing or intent to sell. The decision came before a meeting with his assistant district attorneys Thursday, during which he detailed the city’s new cannabis protocol.
“We are going to tell [police], yes, drop any cases that are simply marijuana possession,” Krasner explained to the gathered press. “We could use those resources to solve homicides.”
The announcement came along with two other major revelations from the DA, including the announcement that his office intends to file suit against 10 pharmaceutical companies he feels are at least partly responsible for the city’s crippling opioid epidemic.
The announcements coincided with the release of an op-ed in The Inquirer penned by Krasner and Mayor Jim Kenney, where the two collectively admitted the War on Drugs “was a big mistake.”
“Tragically, too many families, loved ones, and neighborhoods still suffer the consequences not only of addiction, but the policies that tore families apart and decimated communities.
We now know that addiction is a disease. It is well past time to remove the stigma of addiction and help those who cannot help themselves.”
The piece goes on to detail how Krasner believes drug addiction needs to be treated as a healthcare issue rather than a law enforcement one. Because the healthcare system in place was a breeding ground for prescription painkiller abuse, the lawsuit Krasner filed against the pharma companies aims to “end deceptive marketing practices” and recover resources to aid in the treatment of Philadelphians suffering from opioid addiction.
As far as the cannabis case dismissals, Krasner said, “I did it because I felt it was the right thing to do.”