Philly Reaps Benefits from Marijuana Decriminalization

In the three years since decriminalization, marijuana arrests in the city of Philadelphia have dropped from over 3,700 in 2013 to less than 600 in 2016. As a result, Philadelphia has saved millions of dollars on policing and court fees. “Philadelphia has saved about 3 million dollars each year by decriminalizing marijuana.” Says Chris Goldstein, author of, Philly 420, a marijuana blog featured on Philly.com and a cannabis consumer advocate. “That’s 3 million dollars we’re saving right off the top for not putting people in handcuffs. We save another couple million dollars at the courts for not prosecuting these people either, and of course, there are millions of anecdotal reports of all the police time that is saved for not going after people for a small amount of weed. “ Mario Bocelli, a 13 year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department agrees that decriminalization frees up officers allowing them to focus on more serious crimes, describing past arrests for marijuana possession as time-consuming. “If [before decriminalization] someone got arrested for marijuana they would be handcuffed, taken into the processing center and they’d be charged with possession. They’ll see a judge they’ll get bail, probably sign themselves and they would have a court date at the criminal justice center.” This process was not only lengthy for police, but also for those charged, the ordeal would mean hours or sometimes days in jail, depending on the availability of a judge to hear their case. “Now if somebody gets charged, if they have under an ounce of marijuana it’s a $25 fine. If they’re smoking it, it can be up to a $100 fine.” Mario said. Although decriminalization has drastically reduced the number of people arrested for possessing a small amount a marijuana the policy is not uniformly enforced by all law enforcement in Philadelphia. Marijuana possession remains against both state and federal law.  “Officers use discretion,” said Jessica Cooper a three-year veteran of the National Park Service assigned to Independence National Historical Park in Olde City Philadelphia, “but we do enforce possession of a controlled substance.” In August of 2013, Goldstein was arrested by National Park Rangers at Independence Mall for marijuana possession while participating in an event called “Smoke Down Prohibition”. He was charged in federal court and was sentenced to two years of probation as well as a $3,000 fine. “We take it very seriously,” said Ranger Wayne Lamb, referring to marijuana possession at Independence National Historical Park. According to a 2016 report by the U.S. Sentencing Commission marijuana constitute 93% of federal arrests for simple possession. The report entitled, Weighing the Charges: Simple Possession of Drugs in the Federal Criminal Justice System, also claims that federal arrests for drug possession increased 400 percent between fiscal years 2008 and 2013. The commission reports “the data demonstrates that this increase is almost entirely attributable to a single drug type, marijuana, and to offenders who were arrested at or near the U.S./Mexico border (a group almost entirely composed of offenders from the District of Arizona). For simple possession of marijuana offenders arrested at locations other than the U.S./Mexico border, the median quantity of marijuana involved in the offense was 5.2 grams (0.2 ounces). In contrast, the offense conduct of simple possession of marijuana offenders arrested at that border involved a median quantity of 22,000 grams (48.5 pounds or 776.0 ounces)—a quantity that appears in excess of a personal use quantity.” In 2013 2,169 people were charged with federal possession of marijuana. Those charged with marijuana possession on federal lands are usually subject to a fine and probation. Leafly reports in the article, What Happens if You Get Caught With Cannabis in a National Park?, that fines in a major park, such as Yellowstone National Park, could be as high as $795, with the norm in most being around $200. Although prison time is rarely an outcome, if placed on federal probation, an individual charged with marijuana possession would be subject to THC drug testing, even if residing in a legalized state. Despite decriminalization, 594 people were still arrested in Philadelphia for marijuana possession in 2016, according to the PA Uniform Crime Reporting System.  This is due to Section 13 (a) 19 of the PA. Controlled Substances Drugs, Device and Cosmetics Act of 1972 which makes purchasing marijuana a separate crime. This law according to the column by Goldstein published this past June, though rarely enforced disproportionately targets black men “…an overwhelming majority of those still being arrested for marijuana in Philadelphia are young black men. This persists despite decades of data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration showing that black and white residents consume cannabis at nearly equal rates.” Sources:  Meadows, Hannah. “Elevation Gain: What Happens If You Get Caught With Cannabis in a National Park?” Leafly, 24 July 2017, www.leafly.com/news/food-travel-sex/national-parks-cannabis-policies.  Pennsylvania Uniform Crime Reporting System , www.paucrs.pa.gov/UCR/ComMain.asp. “United States Sentencing Commission.” United States Sentencing Commission, www.ussc.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/research-and-publications/research-publications/2016/201609_Simple-Possession.pdf.                      

TSOA Genesis

Hello, fellow anarchist or potential troll! This website will be a hub for anyone who wants to learn what anarchy truly is, and will not be for scheduling riots or protests. Anarchy is about Self Ownership and that means taking the responsibility for your life out of the hands of the state and re-empowering yourself to a level where you aren’t even affected by the state and its tomfoolery. It’s like the government exists, but you pay it no mind, because all your ducks are in order, and you have the power of the mind to direct your life around the bear traps that society has laid out in front of you.   The State of Anarchy is more of an inner state that, once reached in enough individuals, will create a web of empowered men and woman who provide for themselves and each other, voluntarily!