The Board of Directors for ADA Southeastern Pennsylvania voted unanimously at its February meeting to support Bill No. 140001, which was introduced by Councilperson Jim Kenney and would authorize Philadelphia police to issue a summons for the possession of modest amounts of marijuana.
This conforms with the current policy of the District Attorney to not prosecute possession of modest amounts. President Obama has recently cited the disproportionate effect marijuana laws have on minority communities. In Philadelphia, according to Kenney, 89% of arrests for possession of marijuana involved minorities.
ADA bases its support for the Kenney bill on the following:
- There is an inherent racial bias in enforcement.
- Law enforcement resources would be freed up to counter more serious crimes.
- Our criminal justice system could have lowered costs and heightened efficiency.
We commend Councilperson Kenney for his efforts to reform Philadelphia’s approach to this issue.