Councilman Kenney: No Mandatory Arrest for Marijuana Possession
A couple of days after President Obama told the New Yorker that he is basically OK with weed, Philadelphia Councilman Jim Kenney says that he is going to introduce legislation that will put an end to mandatory arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Here’s part of the release sent from Kenney’s office on Tuesday morning:
Under Kenney’s legislation, police but would not be required to arrest and take the person into custody – a process that usually ties up 2 police officers for an average of 2 to 3 hours per arrest – instead, police would issue a summons for the person to appear at the District Attorney’s “Small Amount of Marijuana” program, which includes a 3-hour drug abuse class and a $200 fine.
In announcing his legislation, Kenney said, “our police are already stretched thin. By eliminating the mandatory requirement that police must arrest and process any individual caught with any amount of marijuana, we can free up an estimated 17,000 police hours each year to fight violent crime. That’s over 2,100 8-hour shifts, a tremendous law enforcement resource that the Commissioner could better utilize.”
Kenney also cited the “statistically implied discriminatory nature” of marijuana arrests, explaining that 82% of those arrested in 2012 were African American.
But does Kenney’s bill go far enough?