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Philadelphia Police Will Defy New Marijuana Decriminalization Law


philly norml marijuana pennsylvania philadelphiaLast week the City of Philadelphia voted to decriminalize marijuana. The new decriminalization law would fine people $25 who are found with personal amounts of marijuana, rather than arresting them and charging them with crimes. Apparently the Philadelphia Police Commissioner didn’t get the news. Per High Times:

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said Friday, “I am not in favor at all of any form of [marijuana]legalization.” So Ramsey’s police will just ignore the decriminalization. “We still have to treat [marijuana possession]as a misdemeanor until we are told otherwise by state law. … State law trumps city ordinances.”

The senior attorney for the city, Martha Johnston, seems to think the police commissioner is wrong. In a memo addressing the conflict between city and state law, she wrote “the balance of factors weighs in favor of a conclusion that [the bill]is not pre-empted by the state Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act.”

I always get upset when law enforcement, city officials, and/or local politicians try to hide behind laws that they are not in charge of enforcing. Usually it’s city or state officials or law enforcement trying to hide behind federal law, but in this case it’s city police trying to hide behind state law. Philadelphia police are supposed to work for the City of Philadelphia, not the State of Pennsylvania.

That’s not to say they don’t enforce state laws too, because they do, but not when there is a city law on the books that is different than state law. I guarantee if/when the State of Pennsylvania legalizes marijuana, this same police commissioner will try to play the ‘but it is still illegal under federal law’ card. Someone needs to explain to the Philadelphia Police Commissioner what ‘jurisdiction’ means.


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  1. i was a Philadelphia police officer in the 80s and 90s. Most of us never gave a rats ass about marijuana unless it was a substantial amount for distribution. We pretty much left people alone. We always had bigger fish to fry. Alcohol was always a major problem, much too often it caused an unacceptable degree of death and human suffering. Go figure!

  2. CommonFuckingSense on

    they dont hire cops to go chase pot users. They hire them to respond to crime. Unfortunately cops have a mindset of going to FIND crime. That technically IS good…. but that’s why people like me and you get pissed. When cops pull u over they smell it… OH WAIT!!!! I HAVE SOME BRAND NEW NEWS TO YOU POTHEADS. Just dont be a fucking dumbass and get caught. When you smoke in your car, take ur shit out, bake when you aren’t crossing a fucking intersection or your neighbor bob, or hidden driveways(cops love chillin on those to catch speeders etc.)and then fucking sweep the car by rolling down the damn windows, then fucking simmer down. and PUT UR SHIT AWAY. Then IF a cop comes all it takes is good confidence, because REMEMBER: YOU DIDNT DO ANYTHING WRONG. Boom happy relaxing.

  3. facts are not correct. the law goes into effect in october. the commish is on board.

    if you are a simple, idiot pot supporter just stfu. you makeall smokers look like miscreants. let the articulate smokers speak.

    philly keeps it more real than most.

  4. So even once this is on the books as an official law in Philadelphia can the police choose to enforce the state law?

  5. No that’s not how it works…Do you remember the sales tax? That was suppose to cover the cost of schools,,the state had a pretty good party with that money and we’re still paying for schools…..

  6. The police Chief is correct in his statement. Federal law rules over State laws and State laws rule over county/city laws. Police enforce laws,they don’t make them and they should apply them with a consistency. What you have is a political body to lazy to take the steps for the police to follow the laws..People should understand that at any time and for any reason the Federal government could with full force of the law shut down any or every marijuana outlet in Colorado..In fact the Federal government is being discriminatory in it’s enforcement by operating in any state while giving states like Colorado a pass…This issue has to be resolved by the State of Pennsylvania by passage of law in order for the Philly police chief to comply with local law. He’s not hiding behind anything,he’s doing his job by enforcing the law……As for me I want to see marijuana decriminalized,,that is reduced to a small fine,medical marijuana made available ASAP and then we can follow Colorado…
    People have to do more than just blog about this,representatives know their existence relies on voters,,call them and write them and you will see the laws changed..

  7. Isn’t that the point of a commonwealth. The system works from small to big…local to regional to state. Please correct me if I am wrong but we are still the “commonwealth” not state of Pennsylvania.

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