Philadelphia DA Ends Prosecution Of Minor Marijuana Purchases

By Benjie Cooper

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The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has declined nearly three-hundred cases since DA Larry Krasner announced a new policy where charges of minor marijuana possession would be dropped.

But according to WCAU, a memo that was circulated internally on Monday stated that the office would also no longer be prosecuting cases where thirty grams of cannabis or less are purchased. Intent to distribute cases will still be prosecuted.

In addition to having run on a campaign promise of ending mass incarceration, in March, Krasner published a secret list of twenty-nine police officers whom prosecutors have barred from the witness stand after reviews revealed a history of dishonesty, racial bias, corruption, abuse, and brutality.

Philadelphia decriminalized cannabis under Mayor Michael Nutter, and former DA, Seth Williams in 2014 but a 2017 ACLU report showed racial inequality in marijuana arrest rates. According to the report, which excluded Philadelphia, black adults in the state are eight times more likely to be arrested than white adults.

Arrests in Philadelphia dropped by 88 percent in the year following decriminalization, though black adults were still being arrested at a rate three times higher than white adults.

According to the District Attorney’s Office Director of Communication, Ben Waxman, the goal is to reduce citizens’ needless interactions with the criminal justice system so they can focus their resources on more serious cases that involve public safety.