House Bill 2413, which has 44 co-sponsors of both parties, was referred to the Health committee last week. Earlier this year, Regan sponsored a similar bill that stripped welfare benefits for convicted sex offenders on Megan’s Law registration lists. That bill passed the House unanimously, but the Senate has not taken action yet.
On the afternoon of April 21st, 18-year-old Timothy Brooks arrived at a courthouse in Ardmore, a mile east of his alma mater, the Haverford School. His appearance — khaki pants, blue blazer, square jaw — suggested good breeding. Walking alone, in handcuffs, he lifted his head and smiled at the assorted cameras before him. “Why are you smiling?” a reporter asked. Brooks said nothing and marched forward into the courthouse.
Twenty-five-year-old Neil Scott, Brooks’s alleged co-conspirator and fellow Haverford graduate, showed up looking less composed. Escorted by police, he covered his face with his blood-orange prison jumpsuit — his bail was set higher than Brooks’s, and his parents had declined to pay it — and told the assembled media to “get the fuck out of my face.” Then he popped out two middle fingers and concluded his remarks with a drawn-out “Fuuu-uck you.”
The perp walk was a fittingly theatrical start to the day’s proceedings. Scott and Brooks, along with nine suspected sub-dealers, were being charged with running a drug ring that aimed to supply marijuana, cocaine and Ecstasy to some of the finest high schools, colleges and weekend house parties in Greater Philadelphia. (The prosecutors’ allegations were outlined in painstaking detail in a 77-page affidavit.) Brooks called the operation the Main Line Takeover Project, and soon, so would everyone else. “Every Nug on the mainline is about to come from you and me,” he’d texted Scott last fall. “We will crush it,” Scott echoed in a separate text-message conversation. “Once you go tax free it’s hard to go back.”
Announcing the charges at a press conference, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said, “You’re dealing with kids from one of the finest institutions probably in the country. To take those skills and turn it into this kind of illegal enterprise is very distressing.” In front of her was a table covered in drug-bust evidence: $11,035 in cash, eight pounds of marijuana, 23 grams of cocaine, 11 grams of Ecstasy, eight cell phones, one computer, one .223 AR-15 rifle, one .22 AR-15 rifle, one 9mm handgun — and, to emphasize her point, a lacrosse stick.
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Yesterday, Victor Fiorillo reported that there had been 264 arrests for marijuana possession in the month following City Council’s vote to drop pot possession to a $25 fine.
With the bill — which passed 13-3 — likely to become law in September, it looks silly that there are still pot arrests in the interim. And the author of the marijuana decriminalization law, City Councilman Jim Kenney, is urging Mayor Michael Nutter to sign the law and at least start the debate over whether cops are going to follow it. (Citing state statutes, cops say they plan to ignore the new law and continue to arrest people for pot possession anyway.)
“Just this week, it was reported that another 264 citizens have been arrested since this Bill overwhelming passed City Council on June 19, 2014. Every day Mayor Nutter fails to act, more young people will be handcuffed and jailed for a minimal offense — something that doesn’t happen anywhere else in Pennsylvania”, Kenney said in a statement. Hey, that’s Philly mag’s reporting! If we were a tabloid newspaper, we’d be running an inset image of yesterday’s story alongside this update.
Despite continued resistance from Gov. Tom Corbett on medical marijuana — he supports only a cannabidiol extract — Pennsylvanians clearly have no problem with medical marijuana. According to a recent Franklin & Marshall poll, 84 percent of the state’s residents back the use of marijuana for medical use.
Of that sample, 59 percent strongly favor the legalization of marijuana for medical use and 26 percent somewhat favor it. Only 12 percent are opposed in any way, with 4 percent undecided. Pennsylvania residents have actually supported medical marijuana for a while now: The same question, asked in May of 2006, found 76 percent of Pennsylvanians approved of medical pot.
Club Philadelphia owner Chris Srnicek told us at the time, “We don’t think it’s drugs.” And a reader identified as “Sansom St Gym” left a comment on our story about the death there, claiming “it wasn’t drug related.” (A Sansom Street Gym manager also suggested to the Philadelphia Gay News that drugs were not involved). Well, both were wrong.
[UPDATE: 4:40 p.m.] According to Councilman Jim Kenney’s director of legislation, Jim Engler, as per the Philadelphia Charter, Mayor Nutter does not have to take action on the just-passed marijuana decriminalization bill until Council is back in session in September. (The mayor has the option to sign or veto the bill, or do nothing which would also result in the bill becoming law without his official endorsement.)
“We’re writing a letter to the mayor asking him, since the voice of council has been heard and the bill has been approved by more than 12 members, that he begin implementing the bill and policy change as soon as possible,” says Engler.
The bill includes a three-month time period before it becomes law, which Engler says is something that is normally done with bills that require implementation. “Instead of waiting and twiddling our thumbs all summer long, we’re asking that if he’s going to make a decision one way or another, he should let us know now.”
[Original: 2:36 p.m.] You can breathe a little easier today, stoners, and not just because you probably are into vaping now. Philadelphia City Council voted today to decriminalize the possession of up to an ounce of weed. Even the heaviest stoners rarely buy more than an ounce at a time, so this bill is good news for Philadelphia potheads from the casual smoker to the wake-and-bake stoner.
The bill was first introduced by Councilman Jim Kenney in May. Under Kenney’s bill, Philadelphians caught with up to an ounce (30 grams) of marijuana would not be arrested. After they paid a $25 fine, they’d have the charge expunged from their record. (Presumably, their weed would also be confiscated.) Since June 2010, Philadelphia has treated possession of up to an ounce of weed as a summary offense punishable with a $200 fine and a three-hour class on drug abuse.
Ever wish you could skip work and spend the day in a blitzed-out haze of pot smoke, junk food, and giant-screen plasma televisions? If you’re in Pennsylvania, the answer is: Of course!
At least, that’s what we make of a new survey of 200 manufacturers from the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association. Its bottom line: One-third of all applicants for “good paying jobs” end up ineligible for work because they won’t take a drug test … or because they did take the test and failed.
After Largest Drug Bust in Chester History, Chester County DA Accidentally Describes Futility of Drug War
Last week, Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan announced a huge drug bust. After a year-long investigation, the county completed the drug sting called Operation Telaraña (Spanish for spiderweb). The results: The arrests of 44 people, warrants out for 12 others and the disruption of a cocaine trafficking network that the DA said moved product into Chester County for the last 20 years. “This is the largest drug prosecution in the history of Chester County,” Hogan said.