Mayor Nutter Signs Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

Starting October 20th, people possessing small amounts of marijuana in Philadelphia will no longer be subject to arrest.


Starting October 20th, possession of small amounts of marijuana will be a civil offense in the city of Philadelphia.

Mayor Michael Nutter signed Jim Kenney’s marijuana decriminalization bill in a ceremony at City Hall today. It goes into effect later this month.

This isn’t legalization, but most possession offenses have been turned into fines. Those possessing 30 grams or less of marijuana will be cited and fined $25. Those smoking in public will be cited and fined $100, or made to perform nine hours of community service. Cops will also confiscate any weed they find. Thirty grams is just a little over an ounce; most pot smokers make purchases of only an eighth of an ounce or less at once.

Possessing more than 30 grams, and dealing regardless of weight, is still a criminal offense. A tweet from the city says you can also still be arrested for failing to show ID to an officer when caught with marijuana. So, those without government identification could still be arrested under the new law.

At the same time, the city announced it would “teach students to resist all drugs, alcohol & tobacco” by supporting the Philadelphia School District’s LifeSkills training program. Nutter also signed an executive order providing Community Legal Services with $100,000 to help ex-convicts have their records expunged.

The city also plans an outreach campaign to educated the public on the new law, and promote education about services for addiction treatment.

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  • PhillyGal84

    So would this still go on your permanent record if you get a fine???

    • Presbyton


      • PhillyGal84

        Thanks, dude!

        • Presbyton

          Although if you don’t pay they can still bust you

          • dude

            dude replies to Dude (lol)… yep. don’t pay your taxes and you’ll be arrested. resist arrest for not paying your taxes and they kill you.

    • Stel-1776

      No, but paraphernalia such as a bong or pipe, even if you do not have cannabis, is still illegal and can be a worse penalty than possession, max 1 year imprisonment and $2,500 fine for a first offense. This would go on a criminal record.

      • dude

        not sure what state you live in but most places paraphernalia isn’t illegal. you can buy bongs and pipes almost anywhere. you only get in trouble for having them if they are used in conjunction with drugs (places that prosecute for drug use) and that’s because you would be in trouble for using drugs not for having a piece of glass or metal

        • Duncan20903

          Hey there, for quite some time I’ve wanted to understand why some people promptly replace the word marijuana with the word drugs. Are you incapable of differentiation? I sure wish you’d explain that peculiar habit among the sycophants of prohibition. TIA!

          The cannabis laws in other jurisdictions are just plain irrelevant to the cannabis laws in Philadelphia. We don’t even need to consider that your assertion that paraphernalia is not illegal in “most” places is baseless and untrue. It’s illegal in Pennsylvania.

          quoting from link above:

          “Possession of drug paraphernalia is a crime in Pennsylvania and includes the use of, or possession with intent to use, drug paraphernalia for the purpose of planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packing, repacking, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance in
          violation of this act.”

          • Griffin Kearns

            It’s only paraphernalia *after* you’ve used it to smoke. Carry an apple or a joint around and problem solved.

        • Stel-1776

          I live in PA. We can buy bongs here too, but once there is any indication that it is used to smoke cannabis, like residue for one, it is considered paraphernalia.

      • marcine cohen

        Unless it’s in your car trunk, then it’s a DUI, also. They often clain that the smoking pipe contained >$1,000 worth of CDS residue, on your permanent record, also!

  • Youssef Ismail

    Should have happened decades ago. The fact that marijuana is illegal at any level is embarrassing.

  • marcine cohen

    The Cannabis Sativa oil-and-‘canvas’ paintings in Philly’s Council Chambers and museums weigh more than 30 grams… Does Thomas Jefferson’s Cannabis “marihuana” Sativa original draft of the Declaration of Independence weigh more than 30 grams?

    • Jessica

      Technically things made out of marijuana and hemp aren’t illegal.

      • kevin_hunt

        The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) originally published a rule regarding industrial hemp products in the Federal Register on October 9, 2001, which was effective immediately, and announced it in a press release. Without any compelling reason or the required public notice and comment period, the DEA issued an Interpretive Rule banning hemp seed and oil food products that contain any amount of trace residual THC.

        On February 6, 2004 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a unanimous decision in favor of the HIA in which Judge Betty Fletcher wrote, “[T]hey (DEA) cannot regulate naturally-occurring THC not contained within or derived from marijuana-i.e. non-psychoactive hemp is not included in Schedule I. The DEA has no authority to regulate drugs that are not scheduled, and it has not followed procedures required to schedule a substance.

        Hemp seed is one of nature’s most perfect sources for human nutrition. In addition to its excellent flavor profile, the seed supplies all the essential amino acids in an easily digestible form with a high protein efficiency ratio. Hemp oil offers high concentrations of the two essential fatty acids (EFAs) omega-3 and omega-6 in perfect balance. This superior nutritional profile makes shelled hemp seed and oil ideal for a wide range of functional food applications and as an effective fatty acid supplement.

        • Jessica

          And now, at least within States and municipalities that have legalized it, they can’t even execute raids. And this information doesn’t surprise me in the least. It makes perfect sense that the body would respond so effectively to cannabis. I said in one of my other comments that there are actually cannabinoid receptors in the brain: That to me explains why it’s so effective in treating all sorts of ailments. All I have to do is move a state away and I could get a prescription to treat my PTSD.

          • marcine cohen

            Good point: doctors are getting frustrated that they’ve never been taught about the endocannabinoid receptors… they’re evidently in every bodily cell, also.

        • NOCROMAN

          UH, I knew that. Wait a minute, I didn’t know that. Thanks for the great info. with your permission I am going to copy this comment and send it to all my friends.

      • marcine cohen

        That’s only because the HIA won a 3-judge panel lawsuit against the DEA, in 2004. We did have to sue, and win, to even get our industrial “marihuana” imports, that recently. Nixon’s CSA makes no distinction between Rembrandt paintings and hashish – and DEA Administrator Leonhart also maintains this stance: her worst day, ever, was when Congressman Polis got a Cannabis Sativa US Flag, flown over the Capitol, on July 4, 2014, Leonhart says….

      • NOCROMAN

        Growing the marihuana to make the hemp is illegal.

  • marcine cohen

    George Washington always grew more than 30 grams of Cannabis Sativa… Thomas Jefferson wrote that it is: “Of First Neccessity To Commerce and Marine, In Other Words, To the Wealth and Protection of the Country.” Marihuana rope was always used to hang ‘real’ criminals, before FDR forced everyone to use this outrageous pejorative, for it…

  • blueskybigstar

    The criminalization of marijuana was a long thought out conspiracy against the population of the world.

  • Zoojelly

    It is about time they figure filling the jails with pot smokers and suspended license drivers is not really a good thing for society in the long run.

    • RIRedinPA

      Ah, but it’s a tax on mostly the poor that can’t be challenged.

      • dave

        the “poor” as you say need to learn what its like to pay taxes instead of voting their benefits with no thought of the working class, 15% tax rich to poor would be the perfect world.

        • nerys

          the poor pay the vast majority of all taxes. period. end of discussion. the average person making under $40k a year (half the population) pays around 40 to 50% of everything they earn in direct taxation (ALL direct taxes not just the 1/4th of federal income taxes morons like to parade around online)

          When you add in INDIRECT taxation its more like 75 to 80% of everything they make in taxes.

          • Nick

            can you break down the individual taxes and facts that bring someones 40,000 dollar salary down to less then 10,000……

          • NOCROMAN

            Their called children.

          • dave

            no, that is incorrect, the middle class pay the most by far, I’ve been poor and right now I’m middle class and it isn’t even close, the rich have tax breaks, the poor have substantial tax breaks and the middle class take it up the pooper. now end of discussion.

        • NOCROMAN

          Yes I agree, with one exception. NO write offs and NO loopholes. Everyone pays 15%. American businesses pay 30%. Foreign businesses operating in the U.S. pay 40%. Congressmen and the president of the United states of America pay 85% while in office. and they add None of the above to the ballot when we vote for our elected officials if we don’t like the choices. That includes proposals too! Lastly I want the ability to be granted for the majority of the people that elected a person to office to be able to FIRE them if they are not doing the job they campaigned on to do if elected.

        • EmmettGrogan

          You are ignoring the vast numbers who are poor but work 40 hrs a week i.e. Walmart workers, who get screwed over 8 ways to Sunday all the time. There are many people who work but are poor because the cost of living is so high. And it is stupid to have rich and poor both paying the same percentage of taxes, for many reasons this doesn’t work. For starters the rich need to be taxed far more so they don’t take over the country – oh wait, too late.

        • familyguy

          A sales tax would be a tax for everyone. When you buy a gram you pay taxes but there should be not free rides or else how is the industry going to progress.

  • Tarantanegra

    Even Casual Marijuana Smokers at Risk for Structural Brain Changes

    • philiasophia

      The actual study that you are referencing didn’t test for any cognitive changes, nor did they test for if the structural differences predated the use of the drug, meaning the correlation provided in the study did not support any causal relationship.

      It’s important to inform people on the dangers of pot, tobacco, and alcohol, but spreading misinformation destroys trust and is counter-productive.

    • lbmouse

      Tobacco, cigarettes, salt, MSG, HFCS and Big Macs are also bad for you. Why are they not illegal? You logical is BS.

      • Jim

        In my youth, I overdosed on Big Macs but I don’t eat them anymore. 8)

        But seriously, you are correct.

    • tipacanoe

      Having a mobile device to your head can cause brain damage. Staring at a computer monitor is also bad for your eyes. So what you should do is stay off the internet.

    • Jim

      Same for alcohol.

    • Stel-1776

      Of course some media organizations conveniently leave out a few details of the study. For one the ‘abnormalities ‘ they found in the cannabis users were two areas of the brain with greater size and neural density. This usually is not a bad thing. The authors also never claimed that cannabis caused this, “Because this is a cross-sectional study, causation cannot be determined…“, or that it is ‘damage’. Also, the cannabis group (only 20 subjects) used much more alcohol and used more tobacco than the control group. They were in no way “casual users”, as the authors claimed, using an average of 11 joints per week. No meaningful conclusions either way can be drawn from this poorly conducted study.

      If we are going to discuss popular substances which have an adverse effect on the brain, it would make much more sense to talk about alcohol, which has been proven to cause permanent brain damage. Cannabis on the other hand, despite decades of study has not been shown to cause brain damage in adult users. In fact, the U.S. government has a patent on the cannabinoids found in cannabis for protecting the brain:

      This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.
      Patent 6630507 – Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants. Filing date: Apr 21, 1999.

      The Northwester/Harvard study has already been criticized just days after release in the same journal:
      www . jneurosci . org /content/34/16/5529/reply#content-block

      More criticism:
      liorpachter.wordpress . com /2014/04/17/does-researching-casual-marijuana-use-cause-brain-abnormalities/
      www . alternet . org /drugs/why-medias-fearmongering-marijuana-effects-brain-faulty
      www . dailykos . com /story/2014/04/18/1293027/-Pot-Studies-Prof-Hans-Breiter-Liar-Fool-or-Paid-Hack

    • Jessica

      So do SSRIs, and some of them contain cannibinoids. In fact, the brain has naturally occurring cannibinoid receptors. Also see philiasophia’s response. Poorly executed study.

    • marcine cohen

      Comete lies, refuted by the authors of the study, itself. Pharma antidepressants are what does that…

    • kevin_hunt

      Here’s the first big problem. The 20 marijuana-smoking participants, who took the drug at least once a week, were deliberately selected to be healthy. If they had any marijuana-related problems—or any psychiatric problems or other issues—they were excluded from participating.

      Are you beginning to see what’s wrong? Although the pot-smoking participants showed brain differences in comparison to the controls who were also selected to be normal—both groups were normal! If the smokers had any marijuana-related problems or any type of impairment, they would not have been included in the first place. Therefore, the brain changes that the researchers found were—by definition—not associated with any cognitive, emotional, or mental problems or differences.

      “I’m disappointed that scientists are still able to publish high-profile papers that only look at neuroimaging without a behavioral endpoint,” says Carl Hart, an associate professor of psychology at Columbia University who was not associated with the research. Hart compares the findings to brain differences found between the genders. “There are structural differences between men and women in certain areas,” he says, but they don’t predict differences in ability. “We don’t say this means women are impaired,” he adds.

      Source: Daily Beast

    • Luredhiminwiththesmellof

      Sun exposure is dangerous and puts you at risk for skin cancer!

  • Nat Turner

    When they recognize alcohol is more harmful, why is there ANY fine for MARIJUANA?

    • Sconces

      This makes me wonder, could the mayor have the power to regulate and sell marijuana, or only the state?

      • Jim

        I suspect the state can still prosecute but city resources have been redirected. In my state pot is legal but the Feds can still arrest for pot.

        • Jessica

          Yes, but on the federal level, they’ve basically stopped funding for the DEA busting people with marijuana.

          • Jim

            Good point.

          • marcine cohen

            Let’s hope the US Senate agrees enough to hold a hearing on Rep Rohrbacher’s rider, so it might become law!

          • marcine cohen

            That passed the House – let’s see it pass the Senate, which hasn’t even scheduled a hearing, for it. Sure enough, it would probably be passed by the President, if only the Senate would send it, up. Don’t forget the Senate and White House, in the meantime…

          • Jessica

            Ah, yes, that’s correct. However, I just found an article about it gaining support in the Senate, so sounds like it’s going well.

      • tipacanoe

        He would not have any power to regulate and sell. State powers trump city powers. However, prosecution and fines are handled locally. That is unless the crime happens on state or even county property. So if you were holding and went to the county court or state court you would be thrown in jail. If you went to the city court you would be fined.

        People in a small town in KS tried doing this to get on the ballot this Nov. for people to sign, but there is also a tax increase on the ballot. They were worried that if too many people came in support of decriminalizing that they would also not support increase in sales tax. So they found a loophole in signatures, and that made it about 50 signatures shy of what they needed to get on the ballot.

        • marcine cohen

          Actually, it would become the Sheriff’s duty, to defend Philadelphians, from outside law enforcement.

          • Jim

            Not really since Feds enforcing Fed laws is not a crime but unwanted. I suspect Feds would show restraint but not be required. Most likely any Sheriff ‘obstructing justice’ by interfering could be arrested. When local and federal laws conflict, the federal ‘usually’ takes precedence.

      • RIRedinPA

        He’d have to first stake out a corner, get a supplier, probably some runners and look outs…it ain’t easy getting business started.

        • marcine cohen

          I told Nutter to license stores to sell marihuana and magic mushrooms, like Amsterdam has, for decades.

      • marcine cohen

        I told him to do it anyway, years ago. He said, “Really?!!”

  • AntiIgnorant

    Legalize Nationwide!! Stop the war on our citizens!!!

    Alcohol legal and marijuana illegal is total HYPOCRISY.

    • Jessica

      Completely agree. Even if you think drugs are bad for you (and granted they all have some form of negative side effects, I won’t deny that), alcohol is way worse than marijuana. Case in point: I know someone who essentially drank himself into diabetes. He would have never done that if he had been able to smoke pot instead. He was in the Navy at the time, so there would have been no way to even sneak it that would have been worth the risk.

  • SlimerTime

    Hooray for freedom!!!!

    (not entirely, but a good step forward)

  • Jim

    Well done, Philly. Focus on the real problems.

  • Vorter Jackson

    So it’s making a sweet revenue stream out of the middle and lower class. And it’s an escalation of enforcement as more people are likely to be fined then prosecuted. This is not good news.

    • Stel-1776

      You are saying being fined, prosecuted, and left with a criminal record is better than being just fined?

  • RIRedinPA

    Ah, I see what you did there Mr. Nutter. Civil offense means a fine so in one swift pen stroke you ease the financial burden on Philly’s prison (or is it jail for a muni) system and open up a whole new revenue stream. Well played Sir.

  • Paul Hiett

    Idiots. Anyone who thinks its harmful and dangerous is 100% ignorant on the issue. It should have been legalized decades ago.

  • Stel-1776

    In 1970 cannabis was temporally placed in Schedule I, the most dangerous controlled substances group, pending the results of a commission created by Richard Nixon to study cannabis and its effects. In 1972 this commission, the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse, recommended that cannabis prohibition be ended, which would remove it from Schedule I. Instead, Nixon ignored the results of his own commission and four decades later cannabis remains in Schedule I along with heroin!

    On September 6, 1988, after two years of hearings on cannabis rescheduling, DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young concluded that:

    Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man…. Marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving distress of great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision. It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record.

    Judge Young then recommended that cannabis be rescheduled and be made available as legal medicine. However the DEA Administrator, John Lawn, overruled Judge Young, and the Court of Appeals allowed that decision to stand, denying medical cannabis to seriously ill patients. Not meeting ANY of the three required criteria, cannabis inexplicably remains in Schedule I, a category with drugs considered more dangerous than Cocaine, Morphine, Opium and Meth.

    After decades of research, the relative safety and medical efficacy of cannabis has been established well enough to conclude that it is significantly safer and more useful than alcohol. Why are we forcing police to deal with something that is, if anything, a minor public health issue? Why are we criminalizing people for something that is safely enjoyed by millions of Americans, something that 58% of Americans believe should be legal?

    Cannabis prohibition is based on irrational fears and paranoia from an archaic era and is a miscarriage of justice. Not only should it be legal medicine, for adults its recreational use should be a legal alternative to the more dangerous drug alcohol. Cannabis must be legalized, taxed, and regulated similar to alcohol. Prohibition policies do not work for popular things that are safely enjoyed by many…especially not in a country that values liberty, justice, and freedom.

    Please consider what the following cannabis legalization organizations have to say. Help end this very costly (money is only a small part), senseless, unjust, unfounded, harmful, and more importantly, un-American prohibition by joining their mailing lists, signing their petitions and writing your legislators when they call for it.

    MPP – The Marijuana Policy Project – www . mpp . org
    DPA – Drug Policy Alliance – www . drugpolicy . org
    NORML – National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws – norml . org — www . phillynorml . org
    LEAP – Law Enforcement Against Prohibition – www .leap . cc

  • Jessica

    They should just legalize it. This basically amounts to an insanely high sales tax. I’ve never bought more than an ounce at once, and if I lived in Philadelphia, why would I? I’m in Ohio, and we’ve had decriminalization here since the 60 or 70s. Go figure. We were one of the first to decriminalize it and now we’ll be one of the last to legalize it, just like gambling. We’ll wait until we’re bleeding money on pot tourism to all the surrounding states.

    • nerys

      I don’t want them to legalize it. I don’t recognize them as having ANY constitutional authority to criminalize it. I want them to STOP violating the constitution (if you do something not explicitly authorized in the constitution your VIOLATING the constitution by definition)

      • marcine cohen

        Perfect perspective! Let prohibitionists be criminally prosecuted! Hemp rope always made the best noose…

      • Jessica

        That’s a damn good point.

  • aubzzz

    so where can you get the Cannabis if there are no medical clinics…? It’s still going to be coming in to the state “illegally”.

    • marcine cohen

      Marijuana can’t grow in Pennsylvania, anymore.

  • Robert Jordan

    the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING! 13

    1000s of my friends and family have grown 30-99 plants for 20 years, thanks for keeping prices high and NORCAL wealthy…#1 crop in cali = $15 Billion Untaxed…

    “any doctor against marijuana is a doctor of death” – cali secret 420

    from 0 states to half the country, from low 20% approval to almost 70%, cali runs this planet by 2 decades, time to tie marijuana to the 2014, 2016 elections, out with the old, in with the new

    20 years behind us southern states and NEW YORK, sad and scary….nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody…the top ten incarcerators on the planet are southern states and more blacks are in prison then were slaves before the civil war…even if marijuana reforms did pass the republiCANTS in charge would deny you all your freedoms, centuries of practice…no matter though, we never planned on getting your backwards brethren from day one, half the country already but not one southern state, lol…not 1….the new generations are taking over in the south and they are nothing like their freedom denying parents, let’s ride…

    Deaths by Alcohol: Millions
    Deaths by Tobacco: Millions

    Deaths by Prescription Drugs: Quadrupled in last decade
Deaths by Guns: Millions
Deaths by the food we are fed: Millions
Deaths by Marijuana: 0, ever…they are killing my American family while denying freedom

    love and freedom forever


  • Robert Jordan

    grow marijuana and make twice that

  • Swoll Guns

    Just decriminalize the drug under 30 grams and no fines. To me this is just window dressing. Soon this will be history. The laws re: marijuana are based purely on ignorance, corporate and special interest groups influence, such as: pharmaceuticals, alcohol and private prison systems, but not limited to these groups. They want to give the impression that weed is the “gateway” to other drugs, but the reverse is true. Heroin addicts are products of prescription drugs, alcohol is one of the leading causes of health problems and auto crashes and our prisons are overwhelmed with non-violent offenders because of getting caught with small amounts of the substance, which harms no one. There has to be a re-thinking of the laws re: marijuana and I think that is not too far away. Wouldn’t it be a sight to see if there was an obstacle course of events ( cognitive and physical) that would let marijuana, alcohol, prescription, heroin, meth, cocaine, etc. users participate and see who would complete and win these events and put to rest , once and for all, the misinformation re: marijuana and it’s effects on the human body ( I’m partial, my money is on the marijuana user). Let’s have that event so the nation can end the illegality of marijuana in our society. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the medicinal benefits of marijuana and that , globally, 76% of doctors support the legalization of marijuana.

  • A Freedom Fighter

    With the CDC statistics below becoming common knowledge it is time for the next step in logic. Why has our government been blatantly lying to us regarding cannabis? Could it be that our corporate controlled government has been steering us away from marijuana and onto tobacco, booze and big pharma? Is it because these same corporations can control and profit from these highly addictive and deadly serial killers?
    Figures directly from the CDC dot gov web site on numbers of deaths per year in the USA.
    * Prescription Drugs: 237,485 + 5000 traffic deaths
    * Tobacco: 390,323
    * Alcohol: 88,000 + 16,000 traffic deaths
    * Marijuana 0, none, not a single overdose death in all medical history and almost no traffic problems
    Cited direct from CDC dot gov. Stop the lies and Legalize!


    How much is 30 grams? I only know ounces.
    I agree with the no smoking in public part. But not with the restriction of how much you can have. It takes 4-5 months to grow a plant and that results in more than a ounce of marijuana. That amount won’t last another 4-5 months until a new plant matures. And if that plant dies for some reason. it takes even longer to have your next medication or relaxing buzz. There should be no restriction, there should be just NO SALES ALLOWED! Grow it, use it, enjoy it., privately. Keep the Power hungry, you have to do what I SAY petty dictators out of the equation.
    Marijuana should never be used to make an income for yourself. Unless you grow the marijuana plant that is super low in THC and is strictly used for hemp and the products that can be made and sold for an income.

  • familyguy

    Go Philly Good luck and I hope you take the next step

  • fumes

    Let’s hear that Liberty Bell ring. Across town. Across the Del. Across America!