Posted: December 6, 2023 12:31 PM
From: Senator Sharif Street and Sen. Camera Bartolotta
To: All Senate members
Subject: Decriminalization of Cannabis in Pennsylvania
In the near future, we will reintroduce SB107 from the previous session which amends Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substances Act changing the grading of possession of a “small amount” of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a summary offense.
In 2016, cannabis was legalized in Pennsylvania for medical purposes. Patients that have been diagnosed with one of the 17 debilitating conditions listed under the “Medical Marijuana act” may qualify to receive relief using medicinal marijuana. Medical marijuana has provided many patients with relief from their respective ailments and has aided them in their ability to cope effectively. Yet, we still criminalize recreational cannabis and incarcerate those who possess small amounts of it. This seems injudicious and, frankly, inappropriate.
Each year in Pennsylvania, thousands of people are charged with minor possessory offenses. These charges permanently stain records and hinder an individual’s ability to obtain work, housing, and childcare. This legislation would ensure that the lives ordinary Pennsylvanians are not burdened by these insignificant charges.
Currently, the possession of a small amount of cannabis is treated as a misdemeanor of the third degree. The maximum penalty is 30 days in jail, and a $500 fine. Also, if a person is convicted of a violation, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is required to suspend the license for 6 months.
Under this legislation, possession of small amounts of cannabis will be reduced to a summary offense and will not result in any driver’s license suspension. The penalty for possession will be a $25 fine for all offenses, and the penalty for consumption in public will be a $100 fine for all offenses. This legislation is based on local ordinances already in place in Pittsburg, Philadelphia and Erie.
Too many Pennsylvanians are facing criminal penalties just for possessing a small amount of cannabis, which is medically legal. Please join us in co-sponsoring this legislation. If you have any questions, feel free to contact either of our offices.