Philadelphia’s D.A. is Dismissing Cannabis Cases

By Jason Marcuz

Prosecutors across the country have been grappling with discrepancies between federal and state marijuana laws. Among them is Larry Krasner, Philadelphia’s District Attorney. Krasner has sent a strong message to cops in his city. Basically, if citizens are arrested for simple marijuana possessions, they will not be prosecuted. Krasner, who became in D.A. in January 2018, is taking a stand and has decided to instead tackle the major problems affecting Philly’s residents. On February 15th, the D.A. announced his stand even as he dropped 51 cases involving simple marijuana possession.

The D.A. made it pretty clear to cops that his office was not going to prosecute any cases of simple marijuana possession. He believes that resources could be diverted to solve other problems such as homicides. He, however, made it very clear that he was only referring to cases of simple possession and not possession with intent to deliver or sell. Even as he made this profound announcement, Krasner also revealed that his office will file suit against ten companies in the pharmaceutical industry that he believes are largely responsible for Philadelphia’s endemic opioid problem.

These revelations were made just as he and the city’s mayor co-wrote an op-ed in The Inquirer claiming that the war on drugs was a huge mistake. Since his appointment in January, Krasner has been making attempts to try and reform Philadelphia’s drug policy. He believes opioids have drastically affected the city of Philly much more than any other city in America. Krasner thinks now is the right time to focus on opioids and let citizens know about the risks and dangers they pose. Apparently, pharmaceutical companies distract the public from learning about the dangers posed by opioids even as they earn billions of dollars each year.

The city has, through the years, relaxed punishments for small-time marijuana offenses. In 2014, the current Mayor, Michael Nutter, approved legislation that imposes a $25 fine rather than arrest for anyone caught with an ounce, or 40 grams, of marijuana. Today, most offenders are issued with citations 90 percent of the time while the remaining 10 percent receive misdemeanor charges. Philadelphia is not alone in this pursuit. Other cities that have adopted similar approaches to the marijuana problem include San Francisco and San Diego. Both cities have gotten rid of thousands of marijuana-related convictions after the passage of Proposition 64. Krasner believes the decision he made is the right thing to do.


Featured photo: Philadelphia’s District Attorney Larry Krasner. (Matt Rourke/AP)