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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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  • Ms. Cris Ericson

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  • Valient

    So fire him. If he’s not going to properly enforce the laws that his boss sets, fire him. It doesn’t matter what his contract says if he doesn’t care what the law says.

    • Robert Dewayne King

      Actually , refusing to obey his immediate superiors is grounds for dismissal !!

      • Dave K

        Insubordination. The easiest way to fire someone with cause.

    • Sarijuana

      People need to SUE them out of office. That hurts more and has more of a political impact than firing him will.

    • Donato

      Fuck that! Arrest him! he’s breaking the law!

  • Doc Deadhead

    The police commissioner is an elected position, vote his ass out Philadelphia.

    It’s hard to imagine an elected person saying anything negative about pot unless they EXPECT to lose their job.

    If he isn’t up for reelection this year he will be in 2016 so just get rid of him.

    Let’s not forget that……..WE ARE THE MAJORITY.

    Let’s make sure the ‘haters’ never forget it!

    • Dusty Relic

      I’m pretty sure the comish is appointed by the mayor and approved by city council.

  • DD
  • AntiIgnorant

    Law enforcement realizes that half their jobs go away is Weed is legal. Great!!! Keep only the cops that care to do real work like fighting violent crime. Let the lazy pot chasers go home and save tax dollars.

    • CommonFuckingSense

      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.

  • tennesseetuxedo59

    what happens when the commish. busts people at great expense but they only get a 25 dollar fine

    • Glenn Catlett

      Fhen they’ll get the message when their arrest isnt enforced by a judge

      • tennesseetuxedo59

        somebody will be pist because of the waste of money

  • PodBoy

    “State law trumps city ordinances.” (The fact that he doesn’t know that PA is a commonwealth aside…)
    Except when they’re talking about gun laws, then they can harass gun owners and violate their rights and the laws of the Commonwealth arbitrarily. Philadelphia is a criminal pit, at every level of government. They were less corrupt when the mob ran the city.

  • Dave K

    First they told us, change the law. We changed the law. Now the *&^% police won’t obey the law… It is fortunate that the courts will protect us from thugs and bullies that operate under the color of the law. I do respect law enforcement officials who follow the law but I can also understand why actions like these drive others to call them Pigs. Get a grip Ramsey, you have accepted a moral stand that makes you no different from the people you chase. People like you set a bad example to the rest of us and you are not fit to be in a position of authority should you choose to disobey the law. If you cannot accept your community’s standards perhaps you should move. If there is a legal conflict this is settled by the courts and not the police department.

  • mike1188

    Hey Philly p.d. You don’t make the laws .this looks like the p.d. Need new jobs

  • f u fuzz

    Welcome to losing money and jobs u corruptcops aand system to f in bad and u wonder why people are just plain sick of cops

  • ted mishler

    The warmongers of high treason are not in favor at all of any form of cannabis community freedom then, and that is high treason, when are lawyers etc going to enforce the constitutional laws and mandatorily arrest all those who commit war on the cannabis community, and write policies that are unconstitutional, and much like slavery, of which our black president must be surly aware, why he “obama” is for slavery of the cannabis community in states that allow punishment to take place due to a vote, and why is it that any one in the states believes that they have the right to vote away another groups’ constitutional rights in the first place?!!!

    the constitution says all people have unalienable rights, not only those who pass some warmongering cannabi9s urine test

    • Jeramiah Styers

      Dude really? I am all for decriminialization but people like you are hurting the cause. High treason is far from applying here, you need to read article III of the constitution and understand what treason actually is. You want to make an arguement for treason i can make a pretty valid argument against the president of the united states. However, in no way shape or form are the laws against cannibis and those who enforce them providing aid or comfort to enemies of the state(at thest in that reguard). I would agree they are unconstitutional but 80% of laws in this country are. The United States federal government was never intended to be involved in our day to day lives but unless you, me, and everyone else hit the polls to tell them we are not going to take their shit anymore it doesn’t make a bit of difference. Try to use fact and common sence to make your arguement rather than spouting nonsence and making us all look like a bunch of idiot stoners.

      • Richard

        I bet you’re one of those guys that goes to the local supermarket and hands out homemade parking tickets to people .

        • Jeramiah Styers

          To quote Dave Chappel in half baked “You have smoked yourself retarded.”

  • shmuelman

    Same thing in Denver. The voters overwhelmingly decriminalized cannabis possession, but Mayor Hickenlooper didn’t like that, so he just had the police continue (increase) arrests under State law. It is up to the courts to decide if there will be continued prosecution. Cops in Philadelphia are paid to make arrests and keep down the black fold, not make decisions.

  • Erad

    Dear commissioner,

    Blow me

  • Toking_Turtle

    Do the job your paid to do and focus more on violent crimes then on marijauna .

    Guess trying to arrest someone for feeling good about life is so much more important then someone killing someone.

    Shame shame.

    • Bic

      Yeah, wouldn’t want to break a fingernail arresting a violent criminal now would we. Cowards

  • Jc

    What a toole… People should have rally to make this “boy” resign uncalled for philly is a dirty violent beautiful city… It needs restored of crime and not to be worried about a man just wanting to relax… Its crazy how backwards these people are…. Grow up you cant stop progress…. And he cant even use the fed card anymore Obama said they would leave states alone who have laxed or no laws with marijuana….

  • Richard

    Just another bonehead with a little bit of power. The world is full of them. He will be the first guy to lead the charge through your front door at 5 a.m. . Shoot your dog , traumatize your kids , destroy your property and haul you to jail. The war on pot has created an insane amount of problems but they will never admit it. We are winning this war though. Ask anybody who was smoking in the 60’s and 70’s. We’ve truly come a long way.

    • HempShare

      This war cannot be won with Democrats, nor Republicans in office. These two parties are now based in the families of George Herbert Walker and Samuel Bush. When George Herbert Walker married his daughter Dorothy to Samuel Bush’s son Prescott – the “Dem-Reps” were REUNITED as ONE PARTY again. Democrats: George Herbert Walker Party, Republicans: George Herbert Walker Bush Party. Do the research. They are the political minions of the Duponts, Rockefellers, Morgans, Rothchilds, Barclays, Windsors, etc.

  • HempShare

    A shot rang out o’er the Philadelphia sky…

  • HempShare

    Police have not experienced lay-offs like the rest of us for years. There are pure parasites riding a gravy train. The Pennsylvania legislature cited a cost of $25,000.00 per POT arrest in PA. This chief pig is about to be slaughtered of his budget and his piglets will be put on the street. Imagine that, an EX-COP fending for himself on the street. NO POLICE Powers. This should be an interesting sociological experiment to study the downsizing of police forces since their services as gardeners & landscapers is about to come to an end. Policemen who arrest POT users, remember – SOON YOU WILL BE OUT OF WORK AND CONFRONTED ON THE STREET BY THE SAME PERSON YOU ARRESTED FOR PLANTS – YOU WILL BE ABSENT OF YOUR POLICE POWERS – but loaded with rhetoric and lies about marijuana.

  • Matt

    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.

    • George

      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…..

  • George

    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..

    • josh

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

      • lemuel

        yes that is correct

  • Kevin Tuso

    legal weed already wtf

  • Sven

    Dear Commissioner,
    Go home, your drunk !

  • lemuel

    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.

  • Sana Luna

    Legal or not its still going to get smoked r.s

  • harry roles

    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!