In Other Parts of Pa., Judges Kind of Not Punishing Pot Use Anymore

Attitudes about marijuana are changing across the state.

Decriminalization may be slow a’coming in Philadelphia β€” no matter how much even the stuffiest corners of establishment society seem to want itβ€” But pot-friendly attitudes seem to be spreading across the state.

The Allentown Morning Call reports on shifting enforcement patterns:

In 2013 and 2014, seven in 10 cases of possession with intent to deliver marijuana in Northampton County concluded without the defendants spending any time in prison, court records reveal. Not one of the 54 cases produced a state prison sentence, with three months the typical jail term in the 16 instances in which prison was handed down.




In Lehigh County, a sample of 20 marijuana delivery cases from around the same time period demonstrated similar results. Seventy percent of them also saw no prison time, and no one was sent to state prison.

"We're not jumping up and down saying this guy should go to jail," said Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli, who nonetheless opposes recreational marijuana.

Or as veteran Allentown defense attorney Gavin Holihan put it: "A defendant would have to work hard to go to jail for marijuana."

The story concludes with former Philadelphia lawyer Tatum Wilson saying city juries are getting fed up with pot prosecutions. After one not-guilty verdict, he said, jurors were "incensed" the case had gone to trial. "One actually said to the prosecutor, 'We wasted our time for this?'" Wilson remembered.

So the attitudes are changing. Maybe not so fast that Mayor Nutter will sign Philly's decriminalization bill, but still.

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